by Joseph Coletti
Senior Fellow, Fiscal Studies, John Locke Foundation
Julie Tisdale, in her newest report on competing bids to bring Major League Soccer to North Carolina, highlights one of the big mistakes people make when considering buildings, roads, and other infrastructure.
Usually, under publicly funded stadium plans across the country, the city or county retains ownership of the stadium, while the team and its owners control revenue. … At first glance, this may seem like a good deal for taxpayers because the county would hold on to an asset. Indeed, the NCFC owners made just this point in a memo to state leaders.
An asset is something that has value, particularly as it can be used to pay debts or other obligations. The value of property comes from the use or sale of that property. Roads are only as valuable as the businesses or homes along them. Stadiums need tenants, or they are just liabilities that cost money to maintain. Even if maintained, they can become blighted structures.
State government already has $4.4 billion in liabilities for deferred maintenance on the facilities it owns.