I attended a baseball game last week at the still relatively new$1.3 billion Yankee Stadium, subsidized handsomely by taxpayers. Itincludes a Metro North rail station so people can get to the gamesmore conveniently. Across the Hudson, the brand new Jets-Giantsstadium, another billion-dollar-plus goliath, just opened with aspecial rail link for fans, connecting into the city paid for byyou know who. But coincidentally the New Jersey governor blocksconstruction of a new rail tunnel into the city which would serveeveryday commuters trying to earn a living.

In Michigan, the state university has just added 10,000 seatsand skyboxes to its football coliseum costing a quarter of abillion dollars, while nearby Detroit contemplates letting swathsof its debilitated urban core go back to seed. At the University ofFlorida, an institution not to be confused with any Ivy Leagueschool, the athletic director and his coaches have three privatejets at their disposal to help recruit player talent and thewomen's softball coach makes $250,000 a year. That’s all nice in astate where housing values have declined precipitously and thebiggest private employer runs a giant theme park. Meanwhile, citiesaround the country still pay off costs on stadiums dating from the1970s, which have been demolished and replaced by new taxpayersupported facilities.

At the same time, we note attendance for the MLB and the NFL isslipping and the most expensive seats go begging. Part of thereason is excessive ticket prices—do team owners realize we’re in2010 not 2007? But of course, that’s the problem. These stadiumswere conceived in the “anything goes” pre-housing bust times wherecheap debt and ever rising values could finance anything, includingour pleasure domes. Like recently completed condo towers and officebuildings, their economics let alone reason for existence has beenupended by now apparent realities. These stadiums will go down withHummers and McMansions as the most telling evidence of ourcollective sociological madness and the skewed priorities, whichhave put the U.S. in our monumental debt rut. Just spend andborrow, buy more and bigger, and distract yourself by payinghundreds and in some cases thousands of dollars to attend sportingevents, while the country ebbs into a sink hole of less.

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Jonathan D. Miller

A marketing communication strategist who turned to real estate analysis, Jonathan D. Miller is a foremost interpreter of 21st citistate futures – cities and suburbs alike – seen through the lens of lifestyles and market realities. For more than 20 years (1992-2013), Miller authored Emerging Trends in Real Estate, the leading commercial real estate industry outlook report, published annually by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Urban Land Institute (ULI). He has lectures frequently on trends in real estate, including the future of America's major 24-hour urban centers and sprawling suburbs. He also has been author of ULI’s annual forecasts on infrastructure and its What’s Next? series of forecasts. On a weekly basis, he writes the Trendczar blog for GlobeStreet.com, the real estate news website. Outside his published forecasting work, Miller is a prominent communications/institutional investor-marketing strategist and partner in Miller Ryan LLC, helping corporate clients develop and execute branding and communications programs. He led the re-branding of GMAC Commercial Mortgage to Capmark Financial Group Inc. and he was part of the management team that helped build Equitable Real Estate Investment Management, Inc. (subsequently Lend Lease Real Estate Investments, Inc.) into the leading real estate advisor to pension funds and other real institutional investors. He joined the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the U.S. in 1981, moving to Equitable Real Estate in 1984 as head of Corporate/Marketing Communications. In the 1980's he managed relations for several of the country's most prominent real estate developments including New York's Trump Tower and the Equitable Center. Earlier in his career, Miller was a reporter for Gannett Newspapers. He is a member of the Citistates Group and a board member of NYC Outward Bound Schools and the Center for Employment Opportunities.