Taggert Brooks Economics Consulting
Taggert Brooks - Economic Consulting

The Editing Floor

My letter to the editor on the stadium can be read here. What I actually wrote is below. Notice the additional reasons to contribute to the stadium which were cut.

If you are planning to donate to the stadium project do so because you like to go to UW-L home football games. Do so because your son has the opportunity to play his high school football games there. Do so because you want the opportunity to watch your daughter compete in the state track meet in her hometown. Do so because you are an alum who takes pride in the appearance of his alma mater, or do so because you enjoy running around the track on your lunch hour.

But do not contribute to the stadium because you think it is going to bring jobs and economic growth to the area or even a return on tourism dollars which “alone will far exceed the investment”. Unfortunately with the latter statement the co-chairs of the UW-L Stadium fundraising campaign fall victim to an economic fallacy economists have been debunking for years. It turns out sports stadiums (and here we are talking about professional sports stadiums) do not tend have a statistically positive economic impact on the surrounding community. And in countless other studies academic economists have been hard pressed to find any evidence that hosting a professional league championship such as the World Series, the Superbowl or an All Star game brings a return through tourism dollars. Even as large as the WIAA state track meet is, I think we can all agree it is smaller than any of the those events.

But surely all of those people who come to town and spend their money must have some impact? The right question to ask is what is their net impact? How many other people would have come to La Crosse but didn’t because the state track meet was happening? How many people left town to avoid the crowds of the track meet? I think you’ll find the answer is that in the end there isn’t a big net change in the number of people in town from what there would have been without the track meet, and that means their isn’t much of a return on investment in terms of tourism dollars.

This is not an argument against donating to the stadium effort. Rather it is merely an argument against some of the arguments made in favor of donating to the stadium. Even so you won’t see my name on the list of donors, unless new plans suddenly include a velodrome, in which case my check book is open.

Posted: October 26th, 2007
Categories: Stadium
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