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Not Your Arena?

When it comes to new sports venues, entrepreneurs may be on the outside looking in.

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This story appears in the August 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

For somebody just blocks away from a half-billion dollars' worth of civic improvements, Dan Bockrath doesn't show much boosterism. "How it affects me is zero, zilch and nada," says the 41-year-old co-owner of Cincinnati's CityBeat, an alternative newspaper with 37 employees. "It" refers to a pair of newly constructed stadiums for Cincinnati's baseball Reds and football Bengals. His lack of enthusiasm fits with a well-established but widely ignored fact: Professional sports franchises and facilities do little for most local entrepreneurs.

Backers of new stadiums say they pump up local economies by encouraging tourism and employing local workers. Nationwide, more than $12 billion has gone into more than 80 baseball, basketball, football and hockey facilities in the past 10 years. But numerous studies show stadiums generally yield few benefits. "Local media benefit, as sports teams usually mean more valuable advertising for newspapers and broadcast stations," says Mark Rosentraub, dean of the college of urban affairs at Cleveland State University and author of Major League Losers: The Real Costs of Sports and Who's Paying for It (Basic Books).

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