Why buy the cow when the public will buy the milk for you?

Some years back, Matt Welch dissected the notion of public funding for professional sports venues in a piece for Reason magazine. And in light of word the theoretical owner of a Quebec City NHL franchise isn’t interested in building an arena for that team, one passage is perhaps particularly noteworthy.

The money quote from baseball’s most nauseating bit of self-mythology, the 1989 Kevin Costner vehicle Field of Dreams, was, “If you build it, they will come.” Like much of the national pastime’s lore, the truth is actually much closer to the opposite: Build a stadium with tax money, and they will eventually leave…

Keating made the obvious but infrequently stated point in a March 2000 article for USA Today magazine: “Another major downside to government-built and -owned ballparks is that clubs are transformed from owners to renters. It is always easier for a renter to move to get a better deal. So, government officials who advocate taxpayer-funded sports facilities to attract or keep a team virtually ensure that teams will continue issuing threats and moving.”

The paper by Raymond Keating to which Welch refers is available here.