All the sexy conservatives and libertarians agree – subsidies for professional sports venues are just wrong.  Let’s accept that premise, then ask what a modern professional sports league would look like without them.

There are exactly three teams who have largely self-funded stadiums and improvements to them: The Boston Red Sox, The Chicago Cubs, and the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Even the wealthy and venerable New York Yankees dipped into public coffers to replace The House That Ruth Built.

So our modern, conservative compliant league would consist of three teams only.  Every other venue in the league was built from the ground up or had with massive renovations in the past two decades or so with subsidies.

Ever wonder why all the complainers about subsidized ballparks are invariably Red Sox or Cubs or Dodgers Fans?  That’s easy, it’s because their teams emerge unscathed from such funding purity tests.  Ever wonder why you never read about the ownership of these teams complain about other teams’ stadiums being publicly funded?  That’s easy, it’s because they understand the league would not be sustainable and there’d be no other teams to play without them.

Here’s what else sustains three or four franchises in the top media markets:  those teams pack in ballparks everywhere they play on the road. The visiting team gets a “cut of the gate,” meaning they collect on ticket sales at away games.  Makes sense.  It’s an incentive to field a competitive team with a coast to coast fan base or a team your rivals’ fans would turn out to see.  A visiting team should get a cut of that. If you’re not the Red Sox, Yankees, Cubs, or Dodgers, you don’t pack in fans at away games. And since there is no revenue sharing as there is in the NFL, a team can only make money on its own ticket sales and broadcast sales.  Again, that’s tilted toward major markets.

A Tweet bemoaning the sad state of Chase field and the inevitable outcry of “cut off their subsidies and let the team leave” got me thinking about this. Then, almost like magic the replies to those tweets invariably waxed about the charm and value or ancient ballparks like Fenway and Wrigley. Those clubs have the luxury of staying in aging confines because the economics of their market have nothing to do with enticing fans with creature comforts. And their owners are totally cool with subsidized ballparks elsewhere because it’s all about the viability of the league.

Stan Kroenke moved the Rams to Los Angeles with a commitment to pay for his own stadium. Fans, conservatives among them, still hate him.  If taxpayer funded ballparks are the furthest thing from conservatism, so is class envy.