There has been a lot of back and forth about building a new riverfront stadium in Saint Louis. Putting aside for a moment the merits (or lack thereof) of publicly financing a new football stadium, there hasn’t been much said (if anything) on what it would take to privately finance a new stadium. A new report from the NFL can give some idea of how much someone would have to pay.
The NFL report analyzes the market conditions in Saint Louis and its ability to support an NFL franchise. Despite the report finding that Saint Louis fares poorly compared to other cities when it comes to attendance and ability to generate additional support for the team, it still had the ability to generate significant revenues for the team through Personal Seat Licenses and ticket sales. In fact, the report estimates that the sale of Personal Seat Licenses can generate a little over $200 million in revenue.
That’s not nearly enough to finance construction of a new stadium, but it is a start. Whether private investors can receive returns to justify spending a further $700-$800 million is an open question. However, if no private individual or group can find a way to make a profit off a new stadium, why should policymakers think that a new stadium would generate a net gain for taxpayers? Likewise, if the stadium was such a great investment, why bother with any private investment? Let taxpayers reap the whirlwind (if it exists).
This new report from the NFL indicates that there is at least some private money available to build a new stadium. Instead of working on ways to spend even more taxpayer money on stadiums, maybe policymakers should work on convincing private individuals to build a new stadium with their own money.