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New Sports Stadiums Proliferate, Business and Industry Trends Analysis

American sports stadiums have historically been built using large amounts of local taxpayer dollars, voted in by fans willing to bear part of the burden for hosting a professional team.  Demand for new, climate-controlled facilities with cutting edge video and sound systems and ever-widening selections of dining venues continues to grow in major cities in the U.S. and elsewhere.
In Arlington, Texas, the Texas Rangers baseball franchise replaced its 22-year-old stadium with a new $1 billion ballpark, featuring a retractable roof, just as the Coronavirus pandemic of 2020 began.  The cost is being split between the team and the city of Arlington.  The Atlanta Braves also built a new facility to replace the 1996 Turner Stadium (built for the Summer Olympics of that year) called SunTrust Park, as did the Atlanta Falcons football team.  Mercedes-Benz agreed to pay the Falcons $345 million over 30 years for naming rights to the new $1.5 billion stadium, which is also used by the Atlanta United soccer team.
Although bond initiatives continue to pay substantial amounts towards funding new stadiums, teams and the cities who host them have had to look to specific taxes for additional sources of cash.  In some cases, funds come from a slice of sales taxes on tourist activities.  For example, Reliant Stadium, home of the Houston Texans football team, is supported by an additional 2% tax on city hotels and a 5% tax on car rentals.
Funding can be and is raised by selling seat rights to season ticket holders in addition to multi-million-dollar stadium naming rights.  The U.S. Bank Stadium, which is home to the Minnesota Vikings and was completed in June 2016, spent $348 million in state funds, $150 million in Minneapolis municipal funds and $550 million from the Vikings (U.S. Bank is spending as estimated $220 million over 20 years for the naming rights).
Yet another twist to stadium finance is packaging a stadium within a larger complex that also includes offices, retail and commercial space.  San Diego’s PetCo Park incorporates a renovated 95-year-old office building, a condominium tower and a sandy “beach” play area in its 26-block ballpark redevelopment area.
Some cities vote against public funding, putting the burden on the teams.  In the case of the move of the St. Louis Rams back to its original home city of Los Angeles (announced in early 2016), a new $4.25 billion stadium complex called the Los Angeles Stadium and Entertainment District at Hollywood Park is being paid for partly by the team owners, Stan and Ann Walton Kroenke, who are investing $1.6 billion in the project.  In total, the complex holds the 70,240-seat SoFi Stadium (which can be configured up to 100,000 seats for special events), a 6,000-seat performance venue, more than 1.5 million square feet of retail and office space, 2,500 homes, a 300-room hotel and 25 acres of park space.  The stadium is home to the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers and opened in September 2020.  It hosted Super Bowl LVI in 2022 and is scheduled to host the College Football Championship Game in 2023 and the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Olympic Games in 2028.

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