A new Texas football stadium for a local high school just received a $62.8 million price tag.
And — no, that’s not a typo.
The residents of McKinney, Texas have voted in favor of a $220 million bond dedicated to a new football stadium and events center. The construction of the 12,000-seat arena will reportedly cost $50.3 million, and another $12.5 million for the stadium’s infrastructure.
These giant sums are the result of a bit of an arms race between high school football programs in the Longhorn State. Allen High School currently plays in a $60 million dollar stadium and Katy High School is set to open a $62.5 million new construction in 2017. Dwarfing even these exorbitant sums is the Frisco High School stadium which is a $255.5 million joint venture between the school and the Dallas Cowboys, who will use it as a practice facility.
Given the eagerness of taxpayers to foot these bills, it follows that fancy new stadiums would lead to an economic boom for the community. However, this is never the case.
Are these huge Texas football stadiums worth it?
Mega stadiums are always a poor use of public funds. Despite promise of lucrative construction jobs, most projects do not contribute to the local economy. The projects are either too brief, low-paying or performed by cheaper out-of-state labor.
Stadiums also do not result in an increase of consumer spending. Numerous studies have shown that fans do not spend more money at a new stadium, they just divert those funds from other forms of entertainment, like shopping or dining. So, fans may spend more money at the new stadium, but they will skip dinner beforehand, hurting the local restaurant.
Ultimately these stadiums do not make much economic sense and there must be other factors at play.
Taxpayers giving in to pressure from football teams?
Professional teams that want new stadiums will routinely threaten to move if local taxpayers do not agree to foot the bill. Fearing that they will lose their beloved team, taxpayers are pressured into voting against their and their communities financial interest for a costly new stadium.
You can’t really blame the residents of McKinney, Texas either. The arms race in Texas creates similar pressure for high school football programs, as they fear they will fall behind their rivals. Without the best stadium, it’s more difficult to attract the best coaches and even transfer students. After all — it’s always bigger in Texas.
Just how large are the top football stadiums?
Check out this infographic from Column Five Media to see just how large Texas football stadiums are — compared to professional soccer stadiums.
A big, expensive stadium may seem like a good idea, especially if everyone else is getting one, but they do not boost the local economy or even give student-athletes an advantage for playing sports in college. If your dream is to play sports at the next level, the best way to increase your exposure is to create a recruiting profile at NCSA.