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Identifying the Real Costs and Benefits of Sports Facilities

Tim Chapin

December 2002, English

While public spending on sports facilities has been staggering, this economic development strategy is rife with inadequate information on major issues relating to these projects. Decision makers often have a limited understanding of the real costs and benefits of sports facilities. This incomplete understanding often leads to unforeseen public expenditures at levels far above those originally budgeted for a project. Unlike most of the literature on sports facilities, this paper does not begin with the premise that sports facilities are poor investments, nor does it espouse the view that these investments provide benefits that far outweigh project costs. Instead, this paper assumes that decision makers require a baseline of information available to them when considering this approach to economic development. This baseline of information includes 1) a broad understanding of existing literature on sports facilities and economic development and 2) an awareness of the full range of costs and benefits of these projects.