Do they make a difference? Professional team sports clubs’ effects on migration and local growth: Evidence from Denmark
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionSport Management Review. 2017, 20 (3), 285-295. 10.1016/j.smr.2016.09.003
It is a common argument in Denmark that municipal involvement in professional team sports can be justified on the grounds of local impact. The use of public funds to directly or indirectly subsidise local professional team sports clubs (PTSCs) is often seen as warranted due to the PTSCs’ positive effects on local economic growth or (inbound) municipal migration. However, can PTSCs be associated with tangible effects at all? This question has never been answered properly in a European context. Based on data covering the 2008–2013 period, and using spatial panel regression models, this article examines this issue in relation to three dominant professional sports in Denmark: football (soccer), handball and ice hockey. The study finds effects for only one of the sports examined, with Danish handball clubs exercising a marginal effect on average income. Ice hockey’s effect is negative and football remains insignificant in all models deployed. Concerning migration, negative effects are found in relation to female handball clubs. These findings are consistent with previous research and have implications for local sport policies and managers. Municipal politicians, public authorities or sport managers should no longer rationalise the use of public funds for local PTSCs on the assumption of (tangible) economic effects or population growth, as it appears to be an inefficient use of public money. If policy makers want to increase municipal income or inbound migration, they should engage themselves in developing more appropriate strategies.