As Cardinals Seek More Public Money for Busch Stadium, Experts Balk

This story was commissioned by the River City Journalism Fund .

In the some two decades since the St. Louis Cardinals reached an agreement to obtain public funding for a new stadium, team leaders have touted its economic benefits for the area and described the agreement as unique in professional sports because of how much of the stadium was privately financed.

Local officials often then repeat those leaders’ assertions.

“Home games are invaluable in supporting our local businesses and helping Downtown grow and thrive,” St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones stated in a recent news release that claimed the team would generate $310 million in economic impact for the St. Louis metro area this season alone.

While fans certainly spend millions of dollars attending Cardinals games, economists question how much public investment in professional teams’ stadiums here and elsewhere helps the surrounding economy. And in St. Louis, they dispute the claim that the stadium, which opened in 2006, was almost entirely privately funded.

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