Sports Stadiums and Local Economic Activity: Evidence from Sales Tax Collections

Journal of Urban Affairs, forthcoming

42 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2021 Last revised: 8 Feb 2022

Date Written: March 11, 2021


Though most studies find that sports stadiums are not strong drivers of economic activity in metropolitan areas, localized development effects may be sufficient to justify public subsidies for a host municipality if circumstances are favorable. This analysis examines the economic ramifications of an intra-metropolitan area relocation of Atlanta’s professional baseball team from a traditional standalone downtown stadium to a new stadium-anchored mixed-use development in suburban Cobb County. Using the synthetic control method, the study employs metro-Atlanta counties to construct a counterfactual outcome for estimating changes in sales tax revenue after the ballpark opened. The findings indicate a net increase in taxable sales in the county; however, the magnitude of the effect is small and not statistically significant. Though net new spending is evident, approximately one-third of the project’s sales appear to derive from crowding out other local economic activity. In total, added tax collections fall well short of covering the public subsidies provided by Cobb. The stadium’s limited economic impact, despite its favorable location and ancillary mixed-use development, further supports past findings that sports venues are poor investments as economic development projects.

Keywords: local economic development, sports stadiums, sales tax revenue, economic impact, synthetic control method

JEL Classification: H27, H71, L83, R11, Z2

Suggested Citation

Bradbury, John Charles, Sports Stadiums and Local Economic Activity: Evidence from Sales Tax Collections (March 11, 2021). Journal of Urban Affairs, forthcoming, Available at SSRN: or

John Charles Bradbury (Contact Author)

Kennesaw State University ( email )

Dept. of Economics, Finance, and Quant. Analysis
560 Parliament Garden Way NW
Kennesaw, GA 30144
United States

Do you have negative results from your research you’d like to share?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics