Big City of Nothing

What is up with the United States these days? Such an open ended question, and there is (sadly) a vast selection to choose from but man we got some problems. For relevance, the idea of sports stadium is what is currently on my mind and furthermore the reality is very troubling.

Take Detroit. In general, Detroit is not seen as a place of wealth. It’s quite the opposite, but most people don’t know the true severity of the city of Detroit and other Michigan communities. The Flint Water crisis brought some attention to the dire conditions in Michigan and the surrounding areas around Detroit, but not enough, as even today there are serious problems, and even more serious ways in which the problem is being evaded and forgotten.

Detroit is a city that unfortunately some people consider to be going through a resurgence because of the Central Business District or Downtown area flourishing. However, this is one sided way of looking at things. There is still constant struggles only a couple miles away from the CBD, in the poor neighborhoods. Among other things, Detroit has been known to have one of the worst transportation systems in the country, not to mention they can’t afford to send water or electricity to some of these neighborhoods. In fact since March the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department has shut off water service to about 12,500 customers.

What’s even worse is that Detroit residents who are struggling are in a uniquely bad position. In a report released in August 2016, Detroit was shown to have the highest rate of concentrated poverty among in the U.S. by population. There isn’t much for growth for these people, and they were basically forgotten about since the recession in 2008. What’s even more troubling, is in a report by the Journal of American Medical Association reported that residents in poor metro areas within and around Detroit have a far shorter life expectancy than people with similar incomes in other poor metro areas around the US. Basically, Michigan residents have it extra bad?

So what do we do to fix or help? Man I wish I knew. But one thing that I guarantee isn’t the answer is to fix other things in the city that aren’t broken… like a sports stadium. But what to do some of the most power and influential people focus their time and money. On sports stadium… The hockey team in Detroit (The Red Wings) recently finished brand new Little Caesars Arena, where the Pistons will also play. Not to mention, billionaires Dan Gilbert and Arn Teller announced a billion dollar pledge to build a new stadium for a Detroit soccer team. So while all these people are struggling for basic human necessities, they build more stadiums….

Now this doesn’t help like most people think. Stadiums don’t magically make more money appear despite their glamorous nature and status. In fact, Andrew Zimbalist, a boss sports economist found that overall, sports stadium have more costs than benefits to a community. Stadiums are usually paid for with public funds and furthermore Zimbalist found that money spent on building stadiums usually out does the revenue taken in. There is also an opportunity cost because people tend to stay away from the stores and restaurants in the surrounding areas on game days because of fear of waiting due to heavy traffic.

So, the point is, Detroit if you’re listening. Please realize that while Downtown is booming, other areas are struggling. A new stadium is nice and all, but perhaps fellow Michigan residents well being is a bit more important… Don’t ya think?