In an opinion piece for FiveThirtyEight, Victor Matheson, professor of economics at the College of the Holy Cross, discusses the lasting economic effects of World Cup stadiums. “The overwhelming conclusion of scholarly research on the subject of stadiums and arenas is that they provide little to no long-term economic benefits,” says Matheson. While Brazil originally planned to spend a small amount of their budget on stadiums, the rest going towards infrastructure, “cost overruns at the sports venues increased stadium costs by at least 75 percent over the original estimates.” As a result, less resources and efforts were focused on infrastructure, leaving only half of Brazil’s pledged projects complete.
“At the very least, the country is left with 12 new state-of-the-art soccer stadiums,” offers Matheson. “From a development standpoint, the only thing worse than an expensive, publicly financed stadium is an empty, expensive, publicly financed stadium. So what’s the prognosis for these stadiums’ future use?” Matheson looks at the experience of past World Cup host countries and their stadiums’ usage since 1994, offering statistics of each stadium as well as two generated statistics calculating the stadium use index—“the total number of times during the year the stadium filled to capacity”— and the fan cost index—“the construction cost per fan visiting the stadium four years after the initial event.”
This is a “Holy Cross in the News” item by Evangelia Stefanakos.
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