Red Wings Stadium Upset!

Why Taxpayers Are Losing — Again — in Detroit

Story by Bill Bradley

Illustration by Hawk Krall

Published on Mar 3, 2014

A new stadium for the Detroit Red Wings, set to open in 2016, will have 18,000 seats and a $450 million price tag. It will also have Motor City taxpayers on the line for $284.5 million of the bill. Yet again, a city has offered lucrative tax breaks to a successful sports franchise to build a glossy new arena, all without asking for anything in return other than ill-defined job creation numbers. Despite numerous legislative efforts to limit or regulate subsidies at both the local and national level, the practice of handing over land and money to pro sports teams continues. Politicians facing down the threat of a lost franchise feel as though they’re backed into a corner, regardless of the fact that the public generally doesn’t care. Writer Bill Bradley takes a look at cities from Detroit to Seattle to see what can be done to curb the power that big-time sports owners wield over city halls everywhere.

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