Friday, July 04, 2008

An economist says no eminent domain for sports facilities

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), made the case against tax-exempt bonds for sports facilities, then got an interestting eminent domain question from ranking minority member Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA).

Issa: One final question, which is off of the core subject, but important to me. If we were to take away public bonding, do you believe that cities, in order to ensure that they had the facility, regardless of who pays for it, should be able to continue using its eminent domain in order to ensure that there was a facility in a location agreeable to the city? In other words, Jacobs Field, if it was 100 percent privately paid, would never have been built anywhere in downtown without the right to condemn and take at a fair price the land that was taken. What do you say to that part of it?

Rolnick: Sir, my -- my view on eminent domain and the spirit of eminent domain, it's an abuse to use eminent domain to take from one private company and give to another. Eminent domain was strictly supposed to be used to take from a -- to build a public institution, a library, a school, not a sports stadium. So I have a lot of trouble.

Does a sports facility represent public use? Curiously enough, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, in her dissent in the 2005 Kelo v. New London case, said yes, but supplied no backing cases.

Who would benefit from the $1 lease, naming rights, and tax-exempt bonds for the Atlantic Yards arena?

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