As MLS expands, teams are moving away from the publicly-financed stadium route. There are currently seven teams developing privately-financed homes worth a collective $2.85 billion.
Teams and owners taking on the onus of these major projects is likely a relief to communities that have offered up billions of dollars for new MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL arenas the past several decades, and in some cases shown regret since. Cincinnati, for example, shelled out $1.2 billion in taxpayer money for the homes of the Reds and Bengals, while FC Cincinnati is instead privately financing its new $250 million stadium.
“It’s a different political economy from what it was a few decades ago. Cities are willing to say, ‘We’re not going to build that stadium for you,’” Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program fellow Adie Tomer told the New York Times. The public dollars aiding billionaires in building stadiums only helped create “wealthy individuals faster than we’re creating sports teams,” Tomer added.
After the Columbus Crew opened a $34 million stadium in 1999, another 19 MLS stadiums with a total cost of $4.2 billion were built in the ensuing 20 years. More than half of those came with “substantial amounts of public support.”
Stadiums in the works:
- Austin F.C. – $260 million stadium and a $45 million training center
- Columbus Crew S.C. – $300 million
- F.C. Cincinnati – $250 million
- Inter Miami C.F. – $60 million training facility and a stadium as a piece of a $1 billion development
- Nashville SC – More than $325 million
- Sacramento FC – $252 million
- St. Louis – $400 million