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Over the past two decades, dozens of cities have shelled out 9 figure subsidies, usually in the form of publicly-funded stadiums, in order to keep or attract professional sports teams. Sold as a necessary element of being a “big city”…report after report nonetheless shows that pro sports adds little to no net economic impact to a region.
I see plenty of reason to think that a city supporting a marathon, or other participatory events, in small ways – financial or not – can yield big returns. It’s these kinds of events that, with enough of them happening (in sports, arts and culture), can cumulatively add a big impact to a region at very little cost to the public.