Are Sports Teams Worth the Cost

Photo By Dan Klco (for more of Dan’s work go to

September 11th, 2020

By Monty South and Eli Elstein

Podcast Summary

This week the “When the Lights Go Out” podcast was hosted by Monty South and co-hosted by Mishal and Muf. While not common in other areas of the world, in North America it is almost common practice for there to be a major sports team that leaves their city for a new home every few years. This difference begs the question, why is this happening? In this week’s podcast, this very question, and many more, are addressed.

To start off this podcast Monty talked about the positives that sports teams can bring to cities. These arguments are most often made by owners when talking to the owners of cities to try and convince them that they should provide public funds for their team. These arguments are very surface level and claim that sports teams bring in business into the city, bring in new jobs, and provide social benefits to the city.

Following the positives of having a sports team Monty, Muf, and Mish began covering the reasons that you shouldn’t want your home city to try and bring in a sports team. The topics covered in this discussion include the negotiating imbalance between team owners and the city, the additional costs not discussed up front in these negotiations, and the ways that sports teams hurt their city indirectly.

While all of the information discussed to this point in the podcast has been very surface level, at this point the crew started looking at the findings of an in depth paper looking at the economic impacts of sports teams leaving and moving to cities. Specifically, this paper mentioned that there really isn’t any difference in employment rates, they don’t help out the surrounding areas as much as they claim, and that large sporting events can actually hurt cities.

In this podcast it is also discussed how the current situation came to be and how this issue can be solved. To elaborate, this phenomenon of sports teams changing cities has slowly been developing over the years. It has become an increasingly large issue because sports leagues have become de facto monopolies for their professional sport, calculated the vacancy of certain major cities in a sports league, and because of the precedents that have been set in negotiations between teams and cities. In addition, two of the potential solutions include the electing of stronger leaders who are willing to say no to teams asking for money, and even potentially moving towards a promotion relegation system in US professional sports.


While not a complete correction, this podcast was recorded in min-July. As a result of this, I just wanted to confirm that Leeds was in fact promoted to the Premier League and they will play their first game this season the day after this podcast and blog are released.

My Thoughts

Hey everyone, this week I (Eli) will be giving my thoughts on this podcast since Monty put so much into this one. First off, great job guys! Our team has been working really hard to create things we’re proud of and it really shows in this podcast.

I think Monty, Muf, and Mishal really hit all the important points to start the conversation so I won’t restate what they’ve already said. Instead, I want to direct the readers/listeners to the NFL, which has just started it’s 2020 season. The first Sunday Night Football game will feature the Dallas Cowboys visiting the Las Angeles Rams in the newest super-stadium. SoFi stadium in LA hosts both the Rams and Chargers and is massive. Both teams moved in the past few years in a process similar to how Monty described it.

I am very interested in seeing how the stadium is covered by the media. There have already been multiple pieces and shows filmed about the construction and development which will showcase this season. The coverage has been overwhelmingly positive and fails to mention any of the points that the guys talked about, like the gentrification of surrounding areas. I also don’t know how long it will take for LA to recoup the money they spent on this stadium as the COVID-19 pandemic has halted a lot of shopping/foot traffic through cities and affected the economy significantly.

It’s also important to understand what sports teams mean to the people in their cities. It varies from team to team, but sports are ultimately an entertainment business that feeds fans more as those fans buy in more. It takes time for traditions to be made and for people to grow up loving a team. It also creates animosity for teams that leave a city that still want them. To owners it may be a business, but their business is in the love and trust of their fans.

The guys did a great job this week! They covered the economic side well and started an interesting conversation about the ethics of the situation. I can’t wait to hear what you have to say about it! 

Sources for podcast and this post

  1. Paulas, R. (2018, November 21). Sports Stadiums Are a Bad Deal for Cities. Retrieved July 06, 2020, from 
  2. Stephenson, Jesse, “Letting Teams Walk: Exploring the Economic Impact of Professional Sports Franchises Leaving Cities” (2014). MPA/MPP Capstone Projects. 25. 
  4. McGran, K. (2011, May 24). Thrashers jetting off to Winnipeg? Wait and see. Retrieved July 07, 2020, from 
  5. Wiki. (2020, July 07). Cleveland Browns relocation controversy. Retrieved July 07, 2020, from 
  6. Misra, T. (2016, February 05). Super Bowl 50 Already Has a Loser: San Francisco Taxpayers and the Poor. Retrieved July 07, 2020, from 

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