Thursday, January 31, 2008


Len Bias?* No, no. I said MEDIA bias.

"Over the past two decades, academic research has generated literally hundreds of articles and books empirically challenging the alleged economic wonders of new stadiums, even when they're part of larger development schemes. I have been studying and writing about publicly financed stadiums for more than 10 years and cannot name a single stadium project that has delivered on its original grandiose economic promises, although they do bring benefits to team owners, sports leagues and sometimes players...

In a just-released article in the Journal of Sport and Social Issues, my colleagues and I studied media coverage of 23 publicly financed stadium initiatives in 16 different cities, including Philadelphia. We found that the mainstream media in most of these cities is noticeably biased toward supporting publicly financed stadiums, which has a significant impact on the initiatives' success.

This bias usually takes the form of uncritically parroting stadium proponents' economic and social promises, quoting stadium supporters far more frequently than stadium opponents, overlooking the numerous objective academic studies on the topic, and failing to independently examine the multitude of failed stadium-centered promises throughout the country, especially those in oft-cited "success cities" such as Denver and Cleveland."
--Rick Eckstein, Philadelphia Enquirer

Found via The Sports Economist, along with this post on the public financing of an arena in Oklahoma City. Oh, and remember that article Matt linked to last week, the one about the Seattle Sonics flip-flopping on the economic benefits a sports team provides to a city because they want to get out of their current arena lease? Well, according to Dennis Coates, one of the professors who posts on The Sports Economist, the expert the Sonics used to make this argument was Brad Humphreys (see comments in this post). Humphreys is a contributor to The Sports Economist, as well as a former associate professor of economics at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He is also known for positing that professional sports facilities provide little economic impact to a city or region.

Interestingly, Humphreys has moved on, and north. He is now an associate professor of economics, and Chair in the Economics of Gaming, at the University of Alberta. Yet despite the proximity, and the apparent expertise (he was called to testify in front of the U.S. Congress in 2007), Professor Humphreys has, to my knowledge, only been referenced once in the Edmonton Journal and the Edmonton Sun as it pertains to the proposed downtown hockey arena. That was in a Susan Ruttan story in the Journal on October 11th, 2007. In that story, Ruttan mentions Humphreys' appearance before Congress; she also notes that he is a professor at the University of Illinois, even though he joined the Faculty of Arts for the fall of 2007--before her story appeared--teaching a 400-level "Economics of Sports" class.

Professor Dan Mason, the regular quote for those papers on the arena issue, has stated that Humphreys "is an outspoken opponent of stadium subsidies," and that he "has a world-class reputation." He is even speaking at the upcoming arena conference organized by Mason and hosted by the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce and the University of Alberta. Why, then, given his proximity, expertise and reputation, has Humphreys been so thoroughly ignored in the many articles written in Edmonton's two dailies on the issue of a downtown arena? Is he always unavailable for comment? Is he super-duper busy? Is no one aware of his existence? Is he invisible? Or is it, as Eckstein discusses, simply a matter of bias?

*that's for you, Sac!



Meh. I'm over Bias. He probably would have turned into another Bo Kimble anyway.

Right now I'm more concerned about KG's abdominals and our lack of experience in the point guard position (not that I necessarily dislike Rondo).

Remember when this site was about a hockey team?

Remember when the Oilers had NHL quality players?

Yeah, me neither.

don't criticize the media. they are watching you. it will be interesting to see how this whole arena thing develops.

on the oilers note, groan,'s a long way until april and i already can't look.

heh...I stumbled upon that article recently and was going leave link in comments somewhere around here. But, I figured you'd find it yourself eventually anyways.

I've taken a couple of graduate economics of sport classes... the "economic benefit" argument for publicly funded arenas has (long, dry story short) been debunked repeatedly.
As mentioned, "benefits to team owners, sports leagues and sometimes players" can be amazing, the overall economic benefit is superficial.

I had been successfully blocking the SJ loss from my mind... as I just noticed that that was a 13 shot shutout for nabokov... ugh.

i'm just excited to see the jump in ticket prices once the new arena is built. i have a feeling the wife and i will be priced right out of the market.

i have a feeling the wife and i will be priced right out of the market.

If thats the price for Edmonton moving up the Global Urban Food Chain (Grabia: is that in the Glossary yet?), the Oilers are happy for their fans to pay it.

P.S. Every other team in every other pro league is also prepared to sacrifice 'affordability' for shiny and new. Its like a rent increase; the Super says he's upgrading the plumbing and uses the excuse to jack up the rent.

(Grabia: is that in the Glossary yet?)

My mind is still blown by the statement, so I haven't been able to add it in. It makes my knees wobble. Soon, though. Soon.

I had been successfully blocking the SJ loss from my mind... as I just noticed that that was a 13 shot shutout for nabokov... ugh.

I had one of those weird "what if?" moments late last night, where I started imagining Darryl Sutter as Oilers GM. Ashamed, I quickly banished the thought, but you know times are rough when you start thinking stuff like that.

Is he invisible?

I think so.

Interesting article for sure though.

Now I am not trying to hi-jack this story, but did anyone catch that quote from Lowe in the Journal the other day?

"I'm not going to do a deal for next year.”

That sure caught my attention, because I remember hearing him say “We’re not going to win today (this year)...” sometime around mid-November on one of those Oilers live podcasts.

So why wouldn’t we deal for something that might help in the future (next year)?

He already said on the same podcast that they were rebuilding.

"We're a young hockey team right now. There's no question we're back into a rebuilding situation.”

And he has already admitted to not caring about the Anaheim pick anymore (although I think it irks him more than he is letting on).

"You'd think Lowe might be tempted to tweak his lineup to move up in the standings, even if the playoffs prove to be out of reach, if only to avoid an embarrassing moment at the draft in Ottawa in June. And, apparently, you'd be wrong."
—John Mackinnon, Edmonton Journal.

I just don’t get it anymore. I am starting to think Dennis is right and that Lowe would only deal if he could expect a return of more magical beans. These beans have to work at some point no?


Now I am not trying to hi-jack this story

No worries. I saw that article, too, and was as equally flabbergasted. This quote stood out to me:

"It would (cause) a great deal of angst to see Burke pick in the top five, because of our season," Lowe said. "But I'm not about to make a couple of stupid deals just to prevent that from happening."

I just laughed. A couple of stupid deals by him is the reason why Burke might get that chance in the first place, and now I'm supposed to feel comforted by the fact that he refuses to make any more?

you can hear the defeat in lowe's voice. he has lost all hope. not a good sign at all.

"It would (cause) a great deal of angst to see Burke pick in the top five, because of our season," Lowe said. "But I'm not about to make a couple of stupid deals just to prevent that from happening."

Yeah noticed that gem too. Scary isn't it?

"I'm not going to do a deal for next year.”

Sorry, him saying that still blows my mind.

I'd also like to hear who he thinks the Oilers "good players" are. You know...the ones he won't trade. Just intrigued that's all.

I'm not invisible. I even lurk around this blog occasionally. After the Journal article by Susan Ruttan, I contacted her to let her know I'm now living and working in Edmonton, so she knows where to find me.

Brad Humphreys

Whenever I read an article that has some mention of a fallen star alongside the pitfalls of a publicly funded arena, that day is a good day. Wonder how the Bias documentary will play out. Speaking of Bias, do you know of any good books on him Andy?

Speaking of Bias, do you know of any good books on him Andy?

I don't. Bill Simmons wrote an article on him once, and it's one of my faves. And I think Simmons mentioned a book about the Celtics that included Bias stuff one other time. I'll take a look around.

Here's the Simmons story on Bias. I couldn't find any book info. Sorry. Sacamano might know something, though.

What if you took the words "publicly funded" out of the equation?

For me, or for journalists?

Well, certainly I agree with you that public funding for this project is 10 shades of bad. Not to say that there probably wouldn't be some kind of indirect support. I was just reading what Dell got from the city, so its clear some sort of indirect approach is certainly possible. And Rexall Sports surely has the financial resources to float this project privately. So what if we take Mandel at his word and assume there will be no public funding.

Then what's to worry about?

So what if we take Mandel at his word and assume there will be no public funding.

Then what's to worry about?

Because there will be public funding. My guess is there already has been. I doubt the feasibility committee members are paying for trips out of their own pockets, for example. And let's be clear: the Oilers have been receiving public funding for ten years now.

Well all I have to go on is multiple articles in the Journal and SUN where both Mandel and Stelmack have (on separate occasions) said that public funding for this arena is not going to happen. Now we all know that the definition itself is vague where these guys are concerned, but until I see evidence to the contrary, I have to take what's out there as the current state of affairs. Until a credible source confirms to the contrary, the assumption that there will be public funding seems to me at least a bit premature.

At the end of the day, this thing is going through. We both know it. I guess I should be thankful for your vigilance. But at the same time maybe we should wait and see how its going to go down before getting too carried away with this whole thing. At the very most right now, the idea of public funding seems to be based on unsubstantiated public fear.

*Not to mention that anybody who OK'd overt public spending for this arena would be committing political suicide.

I hope so, David. But when even Katz is only saying $100 million, you have to ask where the rest is coming from. I'm assuming Katz will put in more, but will it be the whole thing? I just have this feeling that it will be public dollars, but they'll spin it to say it isn't really public dollars.

I guess we'll find out more on Tuesday. Interesting story on Katz today in the Journal. I was absolutely floored to learn that he and his lawyers thought a location agreement was currently in place between the EIG and the city. Glad I was able to help out on that, although it looks like he'll sign one anyway. ;)

Dan Mason's position is parallel to Brad Humphrey's position on arenas. In fact, they are best friends...Mason was fundamental in bringing Humphreys to UofA.

Mason believes that indeed public funding for an arena is a waste of time since there are very little economics benefits, however his argument is that a city should look to partner with the arena inevitability in order to prevent further urban sprawl and rather try to achieve mutual goal of urban redevelopment.

Open your eyes Grabia, stop your hate. Humphreys would echo every statment that Mason has made.

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