Date of This Version
Hurricane Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans in late August 2005, and debates are now underway across the country concerning strategies for reconstructing the City. A key to redevelopment involves encouraging former citizens and businesses to return. Both of New Orleans’s professional sports teams, the National Football League Saints and the National Basketball Association Hornets, have taken up residence in other cities, and the question of what the city should provide in the way of financial accommodation to encourage them to return should be considered in devising a reconstruction plan. Infrastructure to facilitate professional sports and mega-events constitutes a significant fraction of capital budgets for even the largest cities. New Orleans has hosted a disproportionate share of mega-sports events in the United States given its size and demographics. An important question concerns whether these events have contributed enough to the New Orleans economy to justify reinvestment in infrastructure to restore New Orleans’s place as a leading host of professional sports and mega-events in the United States. A careful review of the evidence suggests that the redevelopment efforts of New Orleans are better directed at first providing infrastructure that will encourage the return of its middle class citizenry and the restoration of its culture. Playing host to professional sports and mega-events does have symbolic significance, but it is arguable that the city cannot afford to invite guests until it has the means to accommodate them.
Working Paper Number
Matheson, Victor and Baade, Robert, "Can New Orleans Play Its Way Past Katrina? The Role of Professional Sports in the Redevelopment of New Orleans" (2006). Economics Department Working Papers. Paper 75.