Cities across the nation are putting their citizens through the ringer by subsidizing multimillion dollar sports stadiums. Now, Cirque Du Soleil, the amazingly successful Las Vegas show, wants in on the subsidy action in southern Florida. Cirque Du Soleil and Miami developers proposed a $130 million entertainment complex in posh South Beach. It would include a theater, high end retail, and a restaurants. Cirque was willing to contribute $45 million, with the “public” (aka taxpayers) coming up the remainder. Cirque scaled back the project (and the developer abandoned it) after it faced opposition–not from taxpayers and citizens but from other local entertainment businesses that complained the project would siphon city money away from them! It’s a telling example of how politicizing economic development creates a “zero sum game” for revenue. Apparently, Miami area businesses are so used to getting goverment hand outs they don’t trust their ability to generate revenue on their own from customers.
Samuel R. Staley, Ph.D. is a senior research fellow at Reason Foundation and managing director of the DeVoe L. Moore Center at Florida State University in Tallahassee where he teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in urban planning, regulation, and urban economics. Prior to joining Florida State, Staley was director of urban growth and land-use policy for Reason Foundation where he helped establish its urban policy program in 1997.