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The economics of replacing Ohio's sports venues

The Cleveland Browns defense takes a break during an NFL football practice at FirstEnergy Stadium, Thursday, June 16, 2022, in Cleveland.
Ron Schwane
/
AP
The Cleveland Browns defense takes a break during an NFL football practice at FirstEnergy Stadium, Thursday, June 16, 2022, in Cleveland.

Here in Ohio, many of the homes of our major professional sports teams are between 20 and 30 years old, about the time owners start thinking of major renovations or new homes. To discuss the pros and cons of public support for pro stadiums is Victor Matheson, Economics Professor at the College of the Holy Cross.

Home Team

Most of Ohio’s professional stadiums are nearing the end of their lifespan. They are about 25 years old. Like dog years, pro stadium years are calculated differently.

In today’s world, places like Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, and Ohio Stadium—venues that still stand after a century of use—do not exist. Dodger Stadium is ancient at 62 years old.

Here in Ohio, some teams are starting to lobby for new digs.

First up, the Cleveland Browns. Browns Stadium, which opened in 1999 after the original team moved to Baltimore, has seen only minor updates. Its owners say they either need to seriously renovate the stadium or build a new one.

The proposal now being pitched would move the Browns just south of the city to Brook Park and build a domed stadium. It would cost about $2.5 billion, and the owners, Jimmy and Dee Haslam, want taxpayers to cover half the cost. They recently made their pitch to state lawmakers. Governor DeWine isn’t saying no, but indicates it won’t be an easy sell.

And as we said, with those aging stadiums and arenas in Cincinnati and Columbus, those cities could be next in line.

Snollygoster of the week

A couple of weeks ago at Ohio State, three dozen protesters were arrested and charged with trespassing for refusing to leave the campus oval. Some of these protesters were wearing masks or face coverings—perhaps to avoid COVID-19, but more likely to remain anonymous. Some have expressed fears of retaliation.

Now, Attorney General Dave Yost is threatening to charge those wearing face coverings with felonies for violating a state law that makes it a felony to commit a crime while wearing a face covering. This law was enacted in response to Klan members wearing hoods.

We don’t recall similar concern over Proud Boys members wearing masks at anti-trans protests. Granted, they were not charged with trespassing.

If you have a suggestion for our "Snollygoster of the Week" award, a question or a comment, send them to snollygoster@wosu.org.