There are a lot of things economists disagree about, but the economic impact of sports stadiums is not one of them.
“If you ever had a consensus in economics, this would be it," said Michael Leeds, a sports economist at Temple University. "There is no impact."
Leeds studied Chicago –- as big a sports town as there is: Cubs and White Sox (baseball), Bears (football), Bulls (basketball) and Blackhawks (hockey).
“If every sports team in Chicago were to suddenly disappear, the impact on the Chicago economy would be a fraction of 1 percent,” said Leeds.
We talk about sports a lot, and we pay a lot attention to them, but when it comes to the actual revenue teams generate, the impact is minuscule.
“A baseball team has about the same impact on a community as a midsize department store,” Leeds said.
That’s for a sport with 81 regular-season home games a year. National Football League teams play only eight.
Inglewood commissioned an economic analysis of its stadium plan that will be presented to the City Council next month. Developers of the project -- which they call City of Champions -- have promised hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity. Victor Matheson, a sports economist at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, is dubious.
“A good rule of thumb that economists use is to take what stadium boosters are telling you and move that one decimal place to the left, and that’s usually a good estimate of what you’re going to get,” Matheson said.