Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Case Against Events and Positive Economic Activity

I have posted quite often on the dubious claims of proponents of stadium development and their hosted events that their existence will bring forth an outpouring of dollars for the local economy (as seen here, here, here and here). The Olympics and the hosting of the two major party's conventions, give number crunchers a unique opportunity to examine these claims, and as is almost always the case, the truth falls far away from the projected.

The Wall Street Journal compares the actual economic numbers for the Olympics and conventions  with the tangibles and sees a huge gap in costs, budgets and benefits.
Time Magazine joins the discussion on the Olympics, with a focus on the cost overruns experienced each and every time by the host city. An interesting correlation that I think is widely ignored is the cost of the Athens games in relation to the country's debt problems.

The Charlotte Observer analyzes cost and revenue projections of the Democratic National Convention in determining that proponents economic activity claims may not be worth the price of admission.

Bottom line, while these aren't purely stadium-related numbers, their claims are one and the same. I wish this was a wake-up call that cities should stop pursuing the big events and instead focus on the little, everyday things that make the city unique, and therefore great.

Some of the greatest tourist attractions in this country are great because the locals use it. Locals rarely have need for a convention center or have tickets to the Super Bowl. If you make a city great for the people who live there, it will be great for those visiting. Said another way, if a city is great to live in, people will visit. Chasing tourist dollars is very close to treading water. That money would be better spent if it instead focused on increasing the local's quality of life.

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