Market Power

Musings by an academic economist on the power of markets and the power over markets.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Arlington Voting Areas

The external benefits and costs associated with a sports stadium are primarily felt in the areas nearest to the stadium. Craig Depken provides a map of Arlington, Tx. here that color codes voting districts with regards to the proportion of votes for public funding for a new stadium for the Cowboys. I have added three concentric circles centered at the site of the new stadium. From smallest to largest, the circles respectively represent areas approximately 1 mile, 2 miles, and 3 miles in radius.

The “red districts” are districts where more than 60% voted to approve public funding. The “light orange districts” and the “yellow districts” are the districts that voted down the referendum. Most of the red districts are located within three miles of the stadium site and are close to major arteries leading to and from the stadium (I-30 and Highway 360). All the districts that border on the intersection of I-30 and Highway 360 are red districts.

Most of the light orange and yellow districts are also near the stadium site and all but one of is within 4 miles of the stadium site.

I was interested in the types of areas around the stadium site (residential or commercial/undeveloped) and how the voters in the areas voted. I’ve never been to Arlington, so I did the next best thing. I went to MapQuest. The map of Arlington below gives us an idea what type of areas these districts are. The stadium site is in the area down and to the left of the intersection of I-30 and Highway 360.

The red areas near the stadium are largely devoid of side streets and look to be either zoned commercial or are yet to be fully developed. If so, it’s not surprising how voters in these districts voted since we expect the property owners within reasonable traveling distance of the site to be primary recipients of the external benefits of a new stadium.

Most of the light orange districts nearest to the stadium site are full of side streets. I presume that these light orange districts are largely residential. If so, the voters in these areas won’t realize the external benefits from the stadium but will instead bear some of its external costs (noise, traffic congestion on game day, etc.).

One of the light orange districts (the one immediately south of district containing the stadium site) has a railroad running through it and another one has a General Motors assembly plant in it. The commercial interests in these areas aren’t going to see the external benefits from the stadium but will share in its external costs. Here’s another map that focuses on that area.

So it seems that the special interests near the stadium voted as one would expect them to – those that will get the external benefits mostly voted yes while those that won't get the external benefits but will bear the external costs mostly voted no.