Thursday, 11 October 2012

Stadium subsidies - a new hypothesis?

Football is for Republicans, baseball for Democrats? 

StubHub is the secondary market for sports and concert tickets in the States. Their data analyst has been playing with the numbers and finds that states that have a lot more trade in football tickets than in baseball tickets break GOP while those with a higher proportion of baseball tickets like the Democrats.

Here's the infographic from StubHub:

They also put up some evidence showing that changes in the BFR correlate with changes in polling data in the swing states in the leadup to the 2008 election. 
So do baseball or football sales really cause states to move politically? No, not really. Just because the two are correlated doesn’t mean that one action caused the other. But it shows that sports and politics may have a deeper connection than previously thought. Political pundits sometimes say “As Ohio goes, so goes the nation”. I don’t think they’ll ever say “As BFR rankings go, so goes the nation”, but they’d be right if they did.
If the culture wars are a long game, it would be fun to check whether Republican governors/mayors are more likely to throw money at football stadiums while Democrats fund baseball stadiums. We'd then expect periods of unified state/local government to coincide with greater sports stadium subsidies and divided government to hinder it. You'd have to run the latter kinds of checks because if a Democrat state were also a baseball state, it would be no surprise if Democrat governors put money into baseball stadiums. Focus on swing states and on unified vs divided government.

Economists tend to say that stadiums are an incredibly wasteful public investment; do Republicans cite economists against baseball stadiums proposed by Democrats and vice versa?

It is the time of year when I have to start thinking of honours projects to propose for next year....


  1. An intriguing hypothesis. I agree that swing states would be interesting to analyse - does a new stadium swing it in favour of those who subsidise it? Stadium subsidisation is an inherently political game, and there are those that play the game well. I can see this being a rather interesting project to undertake!

  2. Would be surprised if it showed much, but would be fun to check.