The proposed Tennessee Titans stadium is reported to be the highest public subsidy for an NFL stadium in history. The first tax dollars committed to the project came from the state legislature by offering up $500 million to help fund a new stadium. Let’s not forget that taxpayers are still paying off the original 25-year-old Nissan Stadium. But Nashville wasn’t the only city to get taxpayer dollars for stadiums. Across the state, team owners were happy to take taxpayer-funded handouts offered by the government. Chattanooga and Hamilton County are giving millions in taxpayer dollars and tax incentives to build a new stadium (despite being nowhere close to filling up their current stadium) for their minor league baseball team the Lookouts, while in Knoxville, city leaders expanded the special tax district for their minor league team’s new stadium. And West Tennessee wasn’t left out in taxpayer stadium funding, with Memphis giving $2 million to upgrade Liberty Stadium. The city also began talks with the state for hundreds of millions of dollars and an increase in their hotel-motel tax to fund renovations at current stadiums and the construction of a new stadium for the Memphis soccer team. Despite what government officials say, studies have shown sports stadiums do not create new tax revenue, but only shift a tax base from one area to another.
SOLUTION: Government should not be in the business of funding stadiums for sports teams, but it seems political leaders in the state capitol and in each Grand Division have grandiose delusions that giving taxpayer dollars to millionaire and billionaire owners of sports teams is a good thing for taxpayers. Government should get back to the basics instead of handing over a blank check to owners of sports franchises who, by the way, have yet to bring any professional championship trophy back to Tennessee.
Jon Styf, “Report: Tennessee stadium’s proposed $1.5B public subsidy far surpasses any prior NFL stadium.” The Center Square. June 8, 2022. https://www.thecentersquare.com/tennessee/report-tennessee-stadiums-proposed-1-5b-public-subsidy-far-surpasses-any-prior-nfl-stadium/article_51d570e0-e743-11ec-b774-b722ac3ac78b.html
Kevin Reichard, “More specifics emerge on new Chattanooga Lookouts ballpark plan.” Ballpark Digest. July 5, 2022. https://ballparkdigest.com/2022/07/05/more-specifics-emerge-on-new-chattanooga-lookouts-ballpark-plan/
“Knoxville City Council votes for a plan to cover stadium funding gap.” WBIR. August 23, 2022. https://www.wbir.com/article/news/local/knoxville-city-council-tif-district/51-ef06f4f5-2ed8-4624-a556-4fb14c3488b0
Corey Davis, “City of Memphis spiffs up Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium for football season’s spotlight.” Memphis Business Journal. August 26, 2022.
Samuel Hardiman, “Memphis’ big plan: $684M in stadium plans for Grizzlies, Tigers football and replacing the Mid-South Coliseum.” Commercial Appeal. October 18, 2022. https://www.commercialappeal.com/story/news/2022/10/18/memphis-asks-state-684-million-fedexforum-liberty-stadium-renovations/69564167007/
Scott A. Wolla, “The Economics of Subsidizing Sports Stadiums.” Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. May 2017. https://research.stlouisfed.org/publications/page1-econ/2017-05-01/the-economics-of-subsidizing-sports-stadiums/