A critical battle is underway challenging the very heart of the professional sports economics model — and it is not the NFL labor negotiations. The unlikely fight is between a struggling league (the NHL), a suburb with delusions of grandeur (Glendale, Arizona), and a small, regional think tank (the Goldwater Institute). At stake is an important source of value for nearly every professional sports team: taxpayer subsidies.
While the NFL’s Superbowl is held in different cities each year, locations for the game used to have one thing in common: They were warm weather tourist cities like New Orleans, Miami, or San Diego. But recently we have seen the NFL award their big game to cities like Detroit, a record cold Dallas, Indianapolis, and New York. It turns out the NFL has changed its decision-model for choosing Superbowl cites. Rather than choose the city best able to attract fans, it now chooses the location best able to attract government subsidies.