Does Ballpark Village Really Need Subsidies?
We are two months into the baseball season and while the Cardinals might be off to a slower start than many had hoped, people’s reception of Ballpark Village has been positive. From what I have seen, the place looks amazing and I can’t wait to visit. However, does this popularity mean that it was correct to award Ballpark Village substantial tax subsides? Scott Beyer, writing in the American Spectator, doesn’t think so, and neither do I.
Beyer contends that public subsidies to developments such as Ballpark Village mean that there wasn’t enough demand in the first place in order to justify investing in them. I agree. I also believe that using subsidies to finance these projects will be of limited economic benefit because they will just shift spending from other local establishments. A waitress who works at one area restaurant told me that her co-workers in Kiener Plaza are expecting a permanent 10 percent reduction in revenue now that Ballpark Village has opened. This example is only anecdotal, but it falls in line with what economists find when they examine public subsidies for similar types of developments, such as sports stadiums. They find that a lot of the economic benefit these developments bring to cities comes at the expense of spending elsewhere in the economy. Little to no actual wealth is created.
The government should not be picking which development gets public money and which does not. Instead, it should be focused on providing public goods such as basic infrastructure and public safety. Ballpark Village looks like it is going to be a great success, as most people thought it would be. Forcing taxpayers to subsidize the development, however, is not justified and is improper.