IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Loss Aversion, Team Relocations, and Major League Expansion


  • Humphreys, Brad

    () (University of Alberta, Department of Economics)

  • Zhou, Li

    () (University of Alberta, Department of Economics)


Professional sports teams receive large public subsidies for new facility construction. Empirical research suggests that these subsidies cannot be justified by tangible or intangible economic benefits. We develop a model of bargaining between local governments and teams over subsidies that includes league expansion decisions. The model features loss aversion by fans that captures lost utility when a team leaves a city. The model predicts that teams exploit this loss aversion to extract larger than expected subsidies from local governments, providing an explanation for these large subsidies and highlighting the importance of anti-trust exemptions in enhancing teams' bargaining positions.

Suggested Citation

  • Humphreys, Brad & Zhou, Li, 2014. "Loss Aversion, Team Relocations, and Major League Expansion," Working Papers 2014-3, University of Alberta, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ris:albaec:2014_003

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: Full text
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Botond Kőszegi & Matthew Rabin, 2006. "A Model of Reference-Dependent Preferences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(4), pages 1133-1165.
    2. Dennis Coates & Brad R. Humphreys, 2008. "Do Economists Reach a Conclusion on Subsidies for Sports Franchises, Stadiums, and Mega-Events?," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 5(3), pages 294-315, September.
    3. Aju J. Fenn & John R. Crooker, 2009. "Estimating Local Welfare Generated by an NFL Team under Credible Threat of Relocation," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 76(1), pages 198-223, July.
    4. Bruce K. Johnson & Peter A. Groothuis & John C. Whitehead, 2001. "The Value of Public Goods Generated by a Major League Sports Team," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 2(1), pages 6-21, February.
    5. Rodney Fort & James Quirk, 1995. "Cross-subsidization, Incentives, and Outcomes in Professional Team Sports Leagues," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(3), pages 1265-1299, September.
    6. Philip K. Porter & Christopher R. Thomas, 2010. "Public Subsidies and the Location and Pricing of Sports," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 76(3), pages 693-710, January.
    7. Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1991. "Loss Aversion in Riskless Choice: A Reference-Dependent Model," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(4), pages 1039-1061.
    8. Alexander, Donald L. & Kern, William & Neill, Jon, 2000. "Valuing the Consumption Benefits from Professional Sports Franchises," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(2), pages 321-337, September.
    9. XiaoGang Che & Brad Humphreys, 2015. "Competition Between Sports Leagues: Theory and Evidence on Rival League Formation in North America," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 46(2), pages 127-143, March.
    10. Angelo Cocco & J. C. H. Jones, 1997. "On going south: the economics of survival and relocation of small market NHL franchises in Canada," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 29(11), pages 1537-1552.
    11. Dennis Coates, 2007. "Stadiums And Arenas: Economic Development Or Economic Redistribution?," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 25(4), pages 565-577, October.
    12. Jeffrey G. Owen & William J. Polley, 2007. "Cities and Professional Sports Teams: A Dynamic Bargaining Model," International Journal of Sport Finance, Fitness Information Technology, vol. 2(2), pages 64-78, May.
    13. Bruce K. Johnson & Peter A. Groothuis & John C. Whitehead, 2000. "“The Value of Public Goods Generated by a Major League Sports Team: The CVM Approach,”," Working Papers 0014, East Carolina University, Department of Economics.
    14. N. Edward Coulson & Rodney Fort, 2010. "Tax Revisions Of 2004 And Pro Sports Team Ownership," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 28(4), pages 464-473, October.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Endowment Effect; Loss aversion; major league sports; bargaining;

    JEL classification:

    • D42 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Monopoly
    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies
    • L12 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Monopoly; Monopolization Strategies
    • L83 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Sports; Gambling; Restaurants; Recreation; Tourism

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ris:albaec:2014_003. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Joseph Marchand). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.