Tag Archives: Npr

Jack, Jack…

Friend and fellow SLU grad — now a St. Louis City Alderman — is apparently on board with a city-funded stadium in St. Louis.

He appeared on NPR‘s “All Things Considered” this morning in a sound-byte about the city’s frantic effort to keep the bottom-tier Rams from moving to Los Angeles.

Jason Rosenbaum (NPR St. Louis): People like Jack Coatar see this place as the future of professional football in St. Louis. The St. Louis Alderman says building a publicly-financed football stadium here will inject economic vitality into a blighted area, and keep St. Louis as an NFL city.

Jack Coatar: You know, we have the opportunity to completely change what that river front looks like. Take a blighted area north of the arch and completely regenerate that area.

Also joining the conversation was Holy Cross’s Victor Matheson. (Whose work I cited in an item arguing why Cleveland should turn down the GOP or Democratic conventions.)

The math on publicly funded stadiums (like political conventions or Olympics) usually does not add up to a net gain.

Here’s Matheson in a 2011 report, Financing Professional Sports Facilities:

Numerous scholars, starting with Carlino and Coulsen (2004), have used hedonic-pricing techniques to attempt to quantify the quality of life aspects of sports. If the presence of an NFL franchise, for example, is a vital cultural amenity for residents in the area then the value of the franchise to local citizens should be reflected in a higher willingness to pay for living in a city with a team.

One problem is St. Louis is a small, relatively poor city given its size with 318,000 residents. The region has 2.8 million people — and that includes Illinois. Missouri politicians (and not Illinois politicians, who represent a not-insignificant amount of Rams fans) appear ready to pour $400 million (plus) into the stadium.

That means that financing of the stadium is likely to be borne by state taxpayers as a whole. I recall during my time at SLU seeing highway billboards farmers put up that said “If Cardinals build highways, we’ll build stadiums.”

I’m dubious about publicly funding any pro-team’s sports stadium. This, despite being from Cleveland. There, our politicians helped hasten Art Modell’s decision to move the Browns to Baltimore by giving stadiums to the Cavs (not so great at the time) and the Indians (historically bad but on the verge of being good enough to lose in the World Series twice) and not the Browns. Modell just wanted improvements to a stadium far more inferior to the Edward Jones dome.

After the Browns left, we fought to keep the name and got a new franchise which, like the Rams, has under performed. Browns fans, happy(?) to have a team again, will likely hold the bag for a team’s stadium that, at best, hosts 10 games a year there. After paying for 74% of it.

At least the Cardinals are there more often and have a chance at going to playoffs.

But here’s the thing about the Matheson report. The benefits of new stadiums tend to benefit apartment building owners, not necessarily citizens writ large:

Carlino and Coulsen (2006), for example, find that rental housing in cities with NFL franchises command 8% higher rents than units in other metropolitan areas after correcting for housing characteristics…

Others such as Feng and Humphreys (2008) and Tu (1995) find localized effects of stadiums and arenas on housing prices but also that these effects fade quite quickly as the distance from the stadium grows. (Editor’s note: St. Louis is nothing if not spread out.) Conversely, Coates, Humphreys, and Zimbalist (2006) find that Carlino and Coulsen‟s results are highly dependent on model specification. Kiel, Matheson and Sullivan (2010) find that the increase in housing costs does not extend to owner-occupied housing and also find that the presence of stadium subsidies lowers housing values, a finding also uncovered by Dehring, Depken, and Ward (2007).

Here’s a rare intersection where Vox and I agree. Let the Rams build their own stadium or leave.

Matheson concludes his report by saying this:

Improving citizens’ quality of life is clearly an important goal for public policy makers, and there is evidence that sports are a valued amenity for local communities. Evidence of significant direct economic benefits from sporting events, franchises, and stadiums is lacking, however. While public-private partnerships can be justified on quality of life grounds, voters and public officials should not be deluded by overoptimistic predictions of a financial windfall. Sports may make a city happy, but they are unlikely to make a city rich.

Love you, Jack. Happy you’re succeeding as an elected official. But you’re wrong here.

Drop the economic vitalization argument and just say you want to keep an NFL team because the city likes sports. Voters appreciate honesty.

You can listen to the NPR report below:

Embracing my Inner Curmudgeon

One line of demarcation between youth and adulthood, I’ve decided, is whether or not you give a shit about the Billboard Top 40 — and I don’t.

Some time in the past few years — and I can’t recall exactly when — I crossed this line. Now that I know I have passed it, I’ve determined that I am far, far beyond it.

I cannot name a single song on that list. I’m strangely proud of that.

O.K., that’s a lie — I can. Only because Rahm Emanuel was videotaped thrusting his pelvis to some song performed by Alan Thicke’s son. An intern had to tell me why it was funny, aside from the awkward pelvis thrusting.

I listened to it and — surprise! — the song sucks. Canadians aren’t known for their music, and you should trust that anything by somebody other than Elton John who named their son “Rocket Man” (really) also sucks. Imagine if those two forces combined, and you get “Blurred Lines.”

My musical tastes are as dead as Amy Winehouse. I was reminded of this by who else but Amy Winehouse herself. Among some old CD’s I popped in my trendy new six disc changer in my brand newish car was a CD I made for a road trip I took in 2007. “They tried to make you go to rehab, Amy” I thought. Alas, she’s dead, so I suppose those people were right.

The next song on the CD by some no-name artist made me realize that I haven’t listened to popular music in years. To and from work, I alternate between WTOP news, WNEW All News 99.1, and WCSP-FM, which is C-Span’s radio station. In addition to avoiding traffic pitfalls in one of the country’s most congested cities, the former hill staffer and current journo in me finds it hard to enjoy much else.

Since four of my six radio presets are news stations, I should make an official declaration: I am either a curmudgeon or a Beltway insider. Possibly both.

I have become like my childhood dentist, who subjects you to NPR in his torture chair. Sitting there drugged and helpless, Mara Liasson murders your eardrums all while you’re getting stainless steel pick axes jammed into your gums.

No wonder everyone’s afraid of the dentist. NPR is downright scary.

(Memo to self: If Gitmo absolutely must be closed, can we subject prisoners to a strict dentist/NPR regimen? Email John Yoo about that.)

All of the news on our car rides irks Mary, and I can empathize even though I’m not making her listen to talk radio. After a while, she’ll complain and we’ll listen to Big 100.3, which plays oldies rock songs. That’s about it so far as music on the radio goes, and I’m O.K. with that.

Recently, when planning what music will be played out our fast approaching wedding, there wasn’t even any debate to leave the “Top 40” box unchecked.

As a youth, I never was all that into popular music, other than what was socially required. Now that I’m engaged and nearing 30, I spend less (read: no) time at trendy clubs. Thus, I have no incentive to know or care.

While this is all well and nice, I realize that this respite is likely temporary. At some point I’ll probably have rugrats running around. And before I know it, my inner Tipper Gore will jump to life and convert me into a one-man Parents Music Resource Center, blindly meting out justice.

Until then, I’ll enjoy the news. bsig