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Taxpayers Still Paying for Demolished Stadiums

"If you build it for them, they will fleece you."

They may be seen as the political equivalent of a free lunch. "They" are stadiums, and politicians seem to love supporting them (usually touting the "new jobs" they will create) and their bloated price tags while the bill is passed on to taxpayers for generations.

That's what a New York Times article finds.

In New Jersey, residents are still paying $110 million for the demolished Giants Stadium. That's $13 per New Jersey resident for what's now a parking lot. But the problem isn't confined to the Garden State. Seattle’s King County owes more than $80 million for the Kingdome, which was demolished in 2000. Similar stories exist in Indianapolis and Philadelphia. And in Houston, Kansas City, Mo., Memphis and Pittsburgh, residents are paying for stadiums and arenas that were abandoned by the teams they were built for.

So how and why does this happen?

How municipalities acquire so much debt on buildings that have been torn down or are underused illustrates the excesses of publicly financed stadiums and the almost mystical sway professional sports teams have over politicians, voters and fans.

Rather than confront teams, they have often buckled when owners — usually threatening to move — have demanded that the public pay for new suites, parking or arenas and stadiums.

Translation: you may want to stand strong when the next stadium referendum comes across the ballot. Otherwise, you and your kin could be paying for it for years to come. Or as Steven Malanga of the Manhattan Institute puts it: "This has become a rather familiar story, which should be filed under the heading, if you build it for them, they will fleece you."

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