Cities Paying the Most for Sports Teams

10. Kansas City
> Public per capita stadium cost: $361
> Population: 2,049,773 (29th largest)
> Number of major league teams: 3
> Number of stadiums: 3

By 2010, Kansas City spent more than $700 million in public funds on renovating Arrowhead and Kauffman Stadiums, respective homes of the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals. Despite the update, the $255 million renovation of Kauffman Stadium in 2009 has not helped the Royals to boost attendance. The team has filled less than 60% of its seats for three years in a row–among the worst in Major League Baseball. But this was not even the most excessive use of taxpayer money for sports stadiums in the region. In 2007, the Sprint Center opened with the hope of attracting an NBA or NHL team. More than five years later, the stadium still does not have a team and both professional leagues have indicated to The Kansas City Star that expanding or moving teams to the area is unlikely.

Also Read: The Best and Worst Run Cities in America

9. Nashville
> Public per capita stadium cost: $381
> Population: 1,620,403 (37th largest)
> Number of major league teams: 2
> Number of stadiums: 2

Nashville area taxpayers spent over $500 million on the construction of Bridgestone Coliseum and LP Field. The two stadiums were completed in the 1990s as the city went from having no professional sports teams to having two: the NHL’s Nashville Predators and the NFL’s Tennessee Titans. The Titans have beensuccessful in Nashville. The team made the Super Bowl in 1999, and in every year from 2006 onward the team has been at full capacity for seating at LP Field. But the city has struggled to keep its NHL team, the Predators. In 2007, Jim Balsillie, former co-CEO of Research In Motion attempted to buy the team and potentially move it to Hamilton, Ontario.

8. New Orleans
> Public per capita stadium cost: $390
> Population: 1,191,089 (46th largest)
> Number of major league teams: 2
> Number of stadiums: 2

In 2005, New Orleans almost lost the Saints. The team’s stadium, the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, was damaged by Hurricane Katrina and owner Tom Benson considered moving the team to San Antonio, Texas. Although the team ended up staying in New Orleans, renovating the Superdome cost the public $248 million in capital and ongoing costs through 2010. However, while the deal has been costly, the team has played well in recent years. In 2010, the Saints won the Super Bowl, and last season capacity was at nearly 100%. In February, the city will host the Super Bowl for the first time since Katrina, and the 10th time overall.

7. Pittsburgh
> Public per capita stadium cost: $445
> Population: 2,359,746 (22nd largest)
> Number of major league teams: 3
> Number of stadiums: 3

In 2001, two stadiums were completed in the Pittsburgh area, largely using taxpayer money. Through 2010, these stadiums — Heinz Field, home of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and PNC Park, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates — cost taxpayers more than $700 million in capital and ongoing costs. While the Steelers have been successful since moving into their new stadium, winning Super Bowls in 2005 and 2008, the Pirates have failed to produce. The team has not made the postseason since 1992 and as recently as 2010 was barely able to fill half of its seats. In 2010, a third facility financed almost entirely by the public, the Consol Energy Center, was built for the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins. However, the Penguins have been able to fill the arena to capacity since it opened.

6. Denver/ Commerce City
> Public per capita stadium cost: $446
> Population: 2,600,594 (21st largest)
> Number of major league teams: 5
> Number of stadiums: 4

The Denver area has four major professional sports facilities, the same as much larger cities such as Houston and Phoenix. One of these arenas has not needed much public funding. The Pepsi Center was completed in 1999 at a cost of $250 million with only $6 million, or 3%, of that in the form of public funding. However, other stadiums have cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. From its construction in 1995 through 2010, Coors Field, where the Colorado Rockies play, cost taxpayers $323 million overall. Sports Authority Field at Mile High, the Denver Broncos’ home stadium, cost taxpayers $545 million through 2010, making it one of the most expensive stadiums for taxpayers in the U.S.

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