Friday, September 21, 2018

Bigger Pie Forum: The Shuckers Shuck & Jive

Note: This is a sponsored post by Bigger Pie Forum. 

When a city hires a consultant to perform a feasibility study for a stadium or a convention center, it’s obvious that the result is a foregone conclusion. The game at hand is not football or baseball, but cronyism.

These studies almost always provide justification for local governments to spend taxpayer funds on projects that might not have the economic value that local leaders think will result from the project.

These studies are nearly always a rubber stamp because if a consultant told the government that “spending money to make money” isn’t a good option, they wouldn’t get a chance at the contract.


A great illustration of this is the minor league baseball park built in Biloxi using local borrowing and state funds from the BP settlement and a Tourism Rebate program administered by the Mississippi Development Authority.

The study commissioned in 2013 cost $25,000 and told city leaders what they wanted to hear. According to their predictions, the ballpark would have 280,000 fans go through the turnstiles annually and other non-baseball events would provide an additional economic boost for the city.

The real numbers haven’t been close, as the prediction turned out to be off by more than 40 percent. This year, the stadium drew 160,364 fans, the lowest since the ballpark opened in June 2015. Not once since it opened has MGM Park reached the 280,000 figure predicted by the study.

The predicted development around the stadium hasn’t materialized either.

This is a great example of why local governments need to be wary of “spending money to make money” with taxpayer funds. Countless studies have shown that building professional sports stadiums usually don’t have the economic impact that their proponents suggest they will have.

Also, spending money on expensive ballparks takes away funds that could be used on less flashy, but more vital purposes such as critical infrastructure, policing and fire protection.

So the next time you see a study that claims that an arena or stadium will draw X number of fans and contribute Y amount of dollars to a city’s economy, be skeptical. The rosy predictions likely won’t come to pass and it’ll be taxpayers left holding the bag when the bill comes due.


16 comments:

Anonymous said...

C.H. Johnson is little more than a snake oil peddler moving from town to town, city to city, preying on unsuspecting civic leaders and communities with his allusions of grandeur and promises of massive tourist tax infusions that will ostensibly boost, or save, a local economy.

Johnson was the same consultant who pushed the multi-million dollar red-ink gulping Jackson Convention Center. All the parties, especially "journalists" like Fiona Ladd, who said at the time that they possessed long memories and would hold people accountable should the convention center blue skies not arrive are nowhere to be found now.

America is littered with under- and non-performing convention centers, ballparks, downtowns and the like because of people like C.H. Johnson and creative class bullshit artist Richard Florida. C.H. Johnson truly is the Porter Bingham-like shyster of his market niche on a national scale.

Anonymous said...

To spend lots of "free" money or not to spend lots of "free" money. That is the question. What's lucrative about saving the stupid taxpayers money? On the other hand showing the ability to sell a project and get it funded is bread and butter for so called "consultants". They are no different than any other paid experts. They advocate for whatever will put the bread on THEIR table. Their expertise is judged by their ability to "document" their bullshit.

Anonymous said...

Wonder what Brandon spent on "feasibility consultants" before deciding to build its amphitheater? To my knowledge, Brandon got zero help from the state with its project (aside from permission from the legislature to vote on a couple of tax increases associated with food and beverage). The county chipped in some land in the area, but the City had to tote pretty much the whole load. And, so far, it appears that the City's gamble is going to pay off in the short term. Remains to be seen whether competition for acts will catch up with this location and whether the City has the wherewithal to keep the facility fresh and cutting edge. Also remains to be seen whether the City can carefully add lodging and food offerings in the vicinity to make the venue more attractive. If so, Brandon may have demonstrated that one does not need the usual "experts" to do something special.

Anonymous said...

I would like to see the economic impact analysis for the aquarium that is being built in Gulfport.

Anonymous said...

Well, what do expect from Phil Bryant & the republicans who run this state with a super majority. Expect to see a multimillion dollar football stadium at JSU in the near future. How does the Mississippi Development Authority figure into all of this? Hospitals in small towns Magee, Batesville, Amory & Clarksdale are going belly up while nice Jackson Convention Center is costing the taxpayers millions. Now, if I was an elderly citizen in one of these above towns which do I want? A Hospital close by or a baseball park. No Brainer! What the voting public let's these politicians get away with to vote along party lines is incredible!

Madison County Take Note said...

Madison County Board of Supervisors should take a close read of this thread and realize how lucky the county is that the two Rudy Warnock Studies did not actually result in an airport. All those two studies did was put several million in Rudy's pocket which is a drop in the bucket to what would have been spent had that poke-pig been bought.

The current board is quite attracted to 'studies' too, so all of the citizens in Madison County need to remain aware.

We have the Griffin Lake Study which is already costing millions. Road studies that are looked at and ignored are popular up that way. In fact, one of the best ways for a Board to shirk its responsibilities and distance themselves from studies that sink ships is to later claim "We had a study done by a professional group who knows these things".

Anonymous said...

Remains to be seen whether competition for acts will catch up with this location and whether the City has the wherewithal to keep the facility fresh and cutting edge

There will be no issue at all lining up acts. The wherewithal will prove out, or not, over time. Yes, the wherewithal is probably the most crucial item. More so than additional lodging and food as an adequate supply of both is already available nearby.

Anonymous said...

Darn! I thought this was going to be a story about Shuckers on The Rez!

Anonymous said...

The Clarion Ledger, Donna and Todd, Harvey Johnson, Ben Allen, all of Jackson's upper-crust business leaders, the dedicated elected servants on the city council, etc.
They all assured us Jackson needed a convention center and that it was a guarantee for the security of our "Bold New City's" future aka "the city with soul" aka our "radical new city".
The consultants study was proof!

Anonymous said...

10:02 Guess again. JSU will be playing at Hughes field or it's equivalent. Remember USM ain't exactly playing in the Superdome and the pecking order MUST be maintained. Memorial Stadium was never intended for JSU. JSU's "leadership" selected by the hostile college board will go along with anything. Next subject.

Anonymous said...

Shuckers? You know that's a great idea! Shucker's could get one of Mississippi's 'cultural retail' loans and build ShuckerWorld where the 'Development of Eternal Hope' was going to be built but has never materialized. Ask any Republican how to get on that sugar tit (contribution to GOP PAC required but no purchase necessary).

PittPanther said...

The Brandon amphitheatre averages 2 concerts per month! I'm supposed to believe that is enough traffic to offset the cost? Two concerts per month is about equal to how many conventions Jackson holds. The amphitheater doesn't look like a grand financial success.

Anon-E-Mouse said...

@ 09:59. Gulfport used to have an aquarium (Marine Life). It was wiped out in 2005 during Katrina. ML was a tacky tourist trap where trained sea loins, porpoises and such would perform. They may have also done marine biology studies there too.

So, Gulfport wants one back for sentimental reasons.

In the meantime, Jackson needs a monorail from Brandon, to the airport, to downtown to Clinton’s Wal Mart for business development. Donchaknow

Anonymous said...

You didn't have to be a "business" consultant to know this was a bad deal for taxpayers. All the locals new it. The only ones who wanted the taxpayers on the hook for this bad deal were the ones involved with the team, the law firm handling the bonds, the Beau and some fans. (not enough fans to turn a profit)

Now the city and the team owners have reached a settlement over the money the city was to be paid by the team and they want to keep the terms a secret.

The Mayor and city council were a bunch of damn fools to allow taxpayer money to fund this.

Anonymous said...

What galls me is that most of the " research" government contract out at ridiculous costs could given to our universities where students do the research with the supervision and oversight of professors.

You will get an unbiased report.

Indeed, many states have an " Institute of Government", that carries out such research for the entire state.

The great side benefit is producing students who can later work in local government to prevent lame ideas and bogus proposals from ever getting off t he ground and prevent mistakes and omissions in the designs, structure,i and construction. locations and implementations in the projects that have merit.

Anonymous said...

You will get an unbiased report.

Damn you're naive.

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