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Tax-subsidized stadiums vs. early childhood education? An expert's view

During the 10/10/07 hearing, Professional Sport Stadiums: Do They Divert Public Funds From Critical Public Infrastructure?, held by the Subcommittee on Domestic Policy of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Arthur Rolnick, Senior Vice President and Research Director, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis (but speaking for himself only), explained why early childhood education is a much better public investment than sports stadiums.

Ranking minority member Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) was a bit skeptical.

Issa: Did you also look at physical fitness, health and welfare, aspirations of young people, everything else that goes when they go to one professional baseball game and they say, "I want to be like that. I'm going to join my Pop Warner and I'm going to do this." Did you look at any of the other -- did you apply those same metrics to that?

Rolnick’s response didn’t mention, uh, steroids, but he still knocked it out of the park.

Rolnick (below): Yes, we did. Actually, we did. And we do know that baseball is going to exist in this country whether we subsidize it or not. It was interesting when the Minnesota hockey team left Minneapolis for Dallas a number of years ago.

So what happened with those kids who loved hockey? They started to go to the high school games, they started to go to the college games. It isn't that entertainment, sports entertainment disappears. They started to go to some of the minor league games.

So recognize this entertainment is going to exist, but if you don't educate those kids starting at prenatal to five, and they start school behind, the market doesn't fix that. Those are the kids that end up behind. Those are the kids that cost society a huge amount of money.

Entertainment will be there. I will guarantee you, if we end the bidding war between cities and states, you will still see virtually every one of these teams in the major cities, as they are today, and your kids will be able to root for them.


Seriously, is the absence of professional basketball keeping young Brooklynites from playing hoops?

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