SoFi Stadium in Southern California is a new glittering stadium for sports with its impressive glass-and-steel roof.
SoFi Stadium will be hosting its first Super Bowl on Sunday, but it won’t be its last. The Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals will face off for the National Football League Championship. The next college football national championship game will take place at SoFi Stadium. Along with track and field, and archery events, the closing and opening ceremonies of 2028 Olympics will be held there. The 2026 World Cup will feature some of the biggest games in SoFi.
However, SoFi Stadium’s most notable features aren’t the very-SoCal design or packed program of high-profile events.
It is because the stadium cost billions to build was not funded by public funds. In terms of public policy, SoFi Stadium might be one of the most important stadiums in American history—a venue that points toward a future where billionaires who love sports, rather than taxpayers, serve as patrons of professional athletics rather than rent-seekers.
Stan Kroenke (owner of Rams) is responsible for SoFi Stadium’s return to Los Angeles after the team spent 21 years in St. Louis. While there, the Rams played in the soulless Edward Jones Dome, which was originally built with $280 million in public funds—some of which the city is still paying off, despite no longer having a team.
The Rams new stadium in Inglewood—which they share with the Los Angeles Chargers, who pay rent to Kroenke to use the facility—is part of a complex that includes a concert hall, shopping center, office buildings, condos, a luxury hotel, and a 25-acre park. The entire footprint of the site is three times larger than Disneyland, with estimated total construction costs reportedly near $5 billion—making it the most expensive stadium ever built.
It’s not all cronyism. The city of Inglewood is allowing Kroenke to pocket some of the sales taxes from purchases made in the stadium complex, a kickback that’s worth an estimated $180 million, to pay for infrastructure and an internal bus transit system. Roger Noll, a Stanford University economist, has argued that there are other uses of the 300-acre property. But one of the great things about the stadium being privately funded is that those opportunity costs are borne by Kroenke, his fellow investors, and the NFL—not by taxpayers. Noll stated that SoFi Stadium was “a great deal” when it comes to comparing it with any other American stadium constructed in the last three decades. The Washington PostIn 2019.
Every new development comes with compromises. SoFi Stadium is not an exception. The stadium and the Los Angeles Times Sports IllustratedThis week, there were published stories about the positive impact that the stadium had on the neighborhood. The area is seeing a rise in property values, which is good news for homeowners. However it’s not great for those renting who are being priced out. Others complain about the game-day traffic, and all that comes with living in an area where there is more to choose from.
The SIThe way piece frames itself to investigate “the true costs” of the stadium is quite bizarre. Sure, there might be some negative tradeoffs—though it is not at all clear that the stadium is responsible for the sharply rising property values, as Feld of Schemes blogger Neil deMause explains here—but the “true cost” of SoFi Stadium is significantly less than any stadium built with hundreds of millions of taxpayer subsidies.
Perhaps I am just more sensitive because I live in Virginia and state legislators are apparently preparing a $1B package to attract Washington.
Redskins Football teamFrom the Maryland suburbs to D.C., commanders. According to deMause who made his career following these crony deals and has noted that details are still unclear.
If that deal comes to fruition, those costs will be borne by all residents of Virginia—including those who live hours away from Washington and those who have no interest in attending a Commies game. Their property value will not increase, nor will they be able take advantage of the increased economic activity as Inglewood residents. They won’t get any benefits, they will just have to pay the costs.
Washington, D.C., is said to have prepared an offer, which could also put district residents in the middle of a bid for a football stadium. It is an ugly bidding war, which taxpayers across the D.C. should hope to win.
Kroenke is not far behind Commanders’ owner Dan Snyder. The money should be raised to buy a new stadium in order for him to play his vanity football team. In the interim, officials from all 50 states and cities should refer to SoFi Stadium for proof that these projects don’t require taxpayer subsidies.