The Entirely Predictable Failure of Sports Teams Subsidies
The River City Rascals are taking their ball and going home. This was not entirely surprising as the team was operating under a one-year lease extension with the city of O’Fallon. According to the St. Louis Business Journal:
The one-year extension came together after O’Fallon in October 2018 terminated the Rascals’ lease at CarShield Field and barred the team from the facility, saying at the time that the team’s ownership was “repeatedly behind on rent.” O’Fallon later let the Rascals back into the facility as it worked through negotiations with the team for new lease. O’Fallon said Monday that the Rascals still owe the city a balance of $36,600 on a debt of $60,000 from several years ago, and plans to discuss the debt with the team as it winds down operations.
Let’s not mince words: The city of O’Fallon was spending taxpayer money on a private enterprise exactly because the people of O’Fallon and the surrounding areas decided not to spend their own money on it. How was this ever a good idea? This comes on the heels of a similar situation in Wyandotte County, Kansas that we discussed and wrote about previously: A city spending limited taxpayer resources on a faltering private enterprise that only postposed the inevitable.
Incredibly, the larger cities on both sides of Missouri are contemplating even bigger versions of the same mistake, either by building a baseball stadium in downtown Kansas City or a Major League Soccer stadium in downtown St. Louis. The owners may be different, but the policy remains the same: City leaders using taxpayer dollars to shift the risk (but not the reward) from private investors to public taxpayers.