As the sports industry has grown into a multi-billion dollar enterprise, cities have increasingly faced the decision of whether to fund expensive stadium projects to attract or keep franchises. These projects commonly include using public funds and the government’s eminent domain power under the Public-Use Clause of the Fifth Amendment. Unlike traditional public uses such as infrastructure and utilities, multi-purpose stadiums present a unique challenge for courts. The Second Circuit in Goldstein v. Pataki handled the public-use analysis by allowing any amount of traditional public-use justification to shield a stadium project from pretext challenges. This Note argues that by broadening the public-use analysis, the Goldstein court effectively foreclosed any feasible pretext claim against a stadium project, which always has a traditional public-use justification. It proposes that in general, the Massachusetts legislature’s approach to public-use analysis for stadium construction provides a strong starting point in protecting public use from improper private benefits. In Massachusetts, the government grants public funding and land condemnation for the portions of a stadium project that satisfy the traditional public-use analysis, while the government requires teams to pay for any portions that only benefit the franchise. In doing so, the state has struck a stronger balance between protecting the public from unconstitutional takings while ensuring the viability of future stadium projects.
Keeping Public Use Relevant in Stadium Eminent Domain Takings: The Massachusetts Way,
B.C. Envtl. Aff. L. Rev.