Friday, February 29, 2008
Friday Baseball Standings
Couple more losses for the Sens and they can legitimately start stressing about making the playoffs; as of now, they've already dropped far enough that they'd be starting on the road (this Cali/Phoenix road trip should be interesting -- tune in next week).
I was going to say, be wary of Nashville on the bubble, as since everyone finishes with about 8 or 10 straight division games, you know there'll be a lot of points there for the taking. And there is, but as it turns out, they still have Detroit 4 more times, and help is starting to come off the IR (Kronwall is back).
Just for the hell of it, my wild guess at the WC 1st round:
2 DAL v 7 COL
3 CGY v 6 ANA
4 SJS v 5 MIN
Thursday, February 28, 2008
My favourite Mats Sundin quote
If anyone has a right to say he's shown he wants to raise the Cup, Sundin does--unless, that is, you compare him to the people who've actually done it, or gotten within a mile of doing so.
That and more from May of '06 here.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Who would have guessed that when you remove Garfield from the Garfield comic strips, the result is an even better comic about schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and the empty desperation of modern life?
I love the internet.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
I'm Pretty Sure It Is
And It's Over
1) Ray Ferraro dumping on Matt Cooke.
2) Pierre McGuire having a heart attack about the Armstrong/Hossa deal.
3) No Glen Healy on the panel.
4) No Brian Burke on the panel.
5) Mike Milbury's candor, including his calling out of Cliff Fletcher for his comments on JFJ and Pavel Kubina.
6) The weird JFJ vibe. The elephant was literally in the room, all day long. After the Fletcher press conference, it got even weirder, which I did not think possible.
7) The Damien Cox conspiracy theory about the Toronto Five.
8) Steve Simmons and Damien Cox openly suggesting a professional sports franchise should lose on purpose.
9) Dave Hodge returning to HNIC form, ripping Simmons and Cox apart.
10) Nick Kypreos' barely hidden scorn for Bruce Garrioch.
My only regrets:
1) Not enough t.v. time for Pierre Lebrun and Bob Mackenzie.
2) No Eklund up in the "war room", surrounded by Boston Pizza swag, face hidden from the huddled masses.
Both the Oilers and Flames play tonight, the Flames against Colorado, and the Oilers against Detroit. I don't know if the Avalanche and Wings will have their new additions with them, but both games should be interesting to watch. To my mind, Colorado is the team everyone in the Western Conference should be worried about (Canucks and Flames fans, I'm looking at you). They are just outside of a playoff spot, and they've played much of the year without Joe Sakic, Ryan Smyth and Paul Stasny. All three are back, along with new players in Peter Forsberg, Adam Foote and Ruslan Salei. If the goaltending holds, they should make the playoffs, and go deep.
Prediction: 3-2, Oil. Stoll, Penner and Pisani.
I need to add another highlight already.
11) Terry Jones' unilateral decision to speak for the entire City of Edmonton in congratulating Kevin Lowe for not trading anyone today. Lowe's gushing response: "thanks Jonesy!"
T minus 3 hours or so
I do hope they manage to deal Warrener, and getting some value back would be a terrific bonus. He's an excellent guy, and can still play, but the Flames need his 08/09 cap room to sign NHL forwards.
Oilers: if I cheered for them, I'd be hoping they deal Pitkanen; he makes too many mistakes that just don't seem to balanced out by production or great plays. Since I cheer against them, I'm hoping they deal Staios and put Matt Greene in his role.
And LeFebvre catches one of the most ludicrous of Darren Pang's many ludicrous pronouncements:
TSN just had an either-or quiz which asked panelists who would be the better addition at the trade deadline — Warrener or Boston's Aaron Ward. It was a split vote, with one analyst saying he'd rather have Ward because "he has finals experience." Really good point, because Warrener has only been to the Stanley Cup final three times for three separate teams.
Andy and I will continue to update this post, or maybe just chime in down in the Comments.
**Brad Richards to Dallas (and Brian Campbell to San Jose). If I was inclined to run polls on the site, today's would be, "Who has the better 3rd-line centre? Colorado, or Dallas?"
Monday, February 25, 2008
• Mr. Glass is done for the season. Again. That's four Oilers felled to season-enders this year. What's in the water at Rexall?
• Bob McKenzie reports that the Oilers are interested in Alex Steen. I wonder if the Oilers can gather a whole team of players whose Dad's used to play against Kevin Lowe? That would be impressive.
• Identify your worst trade scenario here.
• BoA favorite Darren McCarty is back with the Wings.
• The Big Foppa, Peter Forsberg, is headed back to the Avalanche.
• Dan Boyle has re-signed with the Lightning.
• Vaclav Prospal is a Flyer.
• Ross McKeon is reporting that Dallas will get Brad Richards, and Montreal will get Marian Hossa.
• (MATT) Two live-blogs to recommend for the day: Inside the Flames and Jay Onrait. This is the 3rd year (IIRC) Onrait been doing it; catching up this morning, I let out quite a few guffaws ("It is snowing heavily outside my window. If anyone from the Army is reading this please remain on standby...").
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Hilarious headlines, etc.
Sportsnet.ca -- The Edmonton Oilers open up a five-game homestand Sunday against the Colorado Avalanche which will likely determine any hope they have of making a surge towards a playoff race.
There's surges, and then there's, uh, ...ahem. If the Oil go 17-3-0 to finish, they'll make it to 93 points, which might -- might -- do it. It's over. Next, Steve Simmons -- one of the deans of the Toronto sports media -- attempts to break the irony meter with his Thumbs Down on TSN's The Reporters:
My thumb is down to all the [Swedish hockey player] updates. Every time you turn on your television, open up your newspaper, there's writing about [Swedish player] or they're talking about [Swedish player]. ... It's a lot of noise and it's a lot of news about nothing. And I propose this much. Why don't we leave the [Swedish player] story alone until there actually is a [Swedish player] story to talk about?
Punch line: he's talking about Peter Forsberg!!! Oh, my sides hurt. Also of note in Sun Media news: the Calgary Sun's Eric Francis has been on the postgame of this afternoon's 2-1 Calgary win, and without any disclaimers or hemming & hawing, called the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch "an embarrassment", on account of his consistently ridiculous and inaccurate "rumours", "sources close to the team", etc. Hear hear. Al Strachan seems to get all the grief, but he frequently gets it right.
Calgary game notes, basking in the afterglow:
- Tanguay left halfway through the first period, with a stinger/"neck thing". Hey, Alex, for the next couple of days, don't be too quick with the "I'll be fine, it's just minor", kay?
- Dion Phaneuf and Jim Vandermeer played the final 2:19 of the game. This just in: the new guy is a regular, and our 7th & 8th defensemen have a combined cap hit of $3.85M, this season and next. Surely in the next 45 hours, half of that depth gets traded for some cheaper depth.
- Looks like Marcus Nilson has probably played his way back into the lineup for the duration. He moved up into Tanguay's spot and did what would appear to be a very solid job (note also that Keenan has subbed #26 into Huselius' spot in the 3rd at times over the past few games).
Good luck to the spOilers against the Avs tonight, and Go Flames.
Worst Trade Scenario
In her most recent post on Hot Oil, Erin Loxam states that she expects her favorite Oiler and hockey player, Marty Reasoner, to be traded at the NHL trade deadline. Again. It happened a couple years ago, when the Oilers traded Reasoner to the Bruins for the services of Sergei Samsonov. No doubt the Oilers Cup run of that year mitigated Loxy's pain--at least until the Game 7 loss--but it's never easy seeing one's favorite player get moved to another team. In fact, I am fairly certain that Erin's speculation this year is intended to be a preemptive measure against this: she's preparing for her pain, trying to reduce its toll, by getting out in front of it. I don't think it will work, but I applaud her ingenuity. It's a bold and daring try.
What is also of interest to me is Erin's claim that, "if Marty is gone, whatever team he goes to, that's my Stanley Cup run team." See, now this I don't believe. I believe that Erin thinks she can cheer for any team Reasoner ends up on, but I don't believe, if push came to shove, this would actually happen. As I noted in the comments on Hot Oil:
Even if he's a Flame? Or a Canuck? I know the Flames and Oilers have never traded with each other before, but what if it happens this year? And what if he joins the Canucks, and you have to hear a bunch of girls outside a Lululemon store in Vancouver talking about how hot he is, and how they are going to buy a Marty Reasoner Canucks jersey? THEN WHAT DO YOU DO?
I just don't believe that Erin would cheer for the Flames if Reasoner was traded there, just as I don't believe I'd cheer for the Anaheim Ducks if Fernando Pisani was traded there. In fact, that very thought just made me puke a bit in my mouth. But it did get me thinking, and my thinking was this: what is everybody's worst trade scenario? What player would a fan hate to see traded from their team, and which destination for that player would have them renting their hair or gnashing their teeth? Or, what player or players coming to their team at deadline time would have a fan seriously considering hanging up the jersey and taking up knitting?
So forget all the talk about what player or players you would like to see come to your team over the next few days. That's easy, and being done to death everywhere else. Instead, take a couple of minutes to wonder about what player(s) you would hate to see a) leave or b) come to your favorite team. If they are leaving your team, where's the worst possible place they could end up? Have some fun with it, if you can.
I already noted the player I'd be most repulsed to see leave. It would be Fernando Pisani. The worst possible destinations for him would be Calgary, Vancouver, Anaheim, and Toronto. I think Dallas would also make me ill. As for players who I absolutely don't want to see in an Edmonton Oilers jersey, here's a list.
First Team Worst Trade All-Stars
Defence- Dion Phaneuf, Chris Chelios
Forward-Darcy Tucker, Sean Avery, Matt Cooke
Any of those guys end up in Edmonton, ever, and I'm moving to Macklin, Saskatchewan to take up competitive bunnock.
Friday, February 22, 2008
Flames Game Night
The good news is that the Flames have played a solid couple of games, and look poised for a better-than-usual effort against the Wings.
The better news is that Detroit is missing Lidstrom, Rafalski, Cleary, and Kronwall, and should be a lot more beatable as a result (though the black lining there is that they still have what I would consider two of the Top 4 forwards in the conference, with Iginla & Thornton).
The best news is that this is the last time we have to play these guys until at least the playoffs, and Hockey Gods willing, if that happens, it'll be in Round 3.
Jim Vandermeer makes his first start in the Flaming C tonight -- could we have a permanent defense partner for Phaneuf? Watch and see Calgary win 4-2 (Boyd, Iginla, Huselius, Nolan). Go Flames.
(Also, I believe the Oilers are playing in Dallas, so good luck with that.)
Nashville's been great, St. Louis has been bad, 15 points in your first 20 games is a very difficult start to recover from, and Anaheim has been good but not dominating as they stock up.
I continue to forget just how poorly the Caps did in the early season. Good on them for getting right back into it; I guess though it's very difficult, it's possible. Also, get a better goalie, and you could well shove it up the noses of everyone who whines about how unfair it is that you get the third seed.
Friday Baseball Standings
Carolina continues to sit a game out in 10th based on their record, and it looks very much like 2 of the 4 teams fighting for the EC title (and well ahead of 5th) will play each other in Round 1; one of those teams shown as 5th-9th will get a presumably easier first round matchup as the 6-seed.
The solution to this unfairness is simple:
Any rule change you could make to "punish" this year's Hurricanes would certainly create more injustice than it eliminates. It's very uncommon (isn't it?) for an entire 5-team division to stink; the more common scenarios we've seen are (1) a couple of good teams running up a wicked record at the expense of several lousy teams in their division, and (2) a division where all the teams are good. Most rule changes that would hurt this year's SE winner also hurt the division winner in Scenario 2, and helps the runner-up in Scenario 1. Why would you want to do that?
And speaking of competitive integrity -- which (I hope it goes without saying) the NHL should be in favour of -- I see Jean LeFebvre is the latest in a long line of guys with the opposite pet peeve to me:
* Abolish the shootouts. Or since there’s no chance in Helsinki of that happening, then make it all or nothing. Shootout proponents say the tie-breaking method is great because it’s so exciting. Hey, a rake fight at centre ice between the captains would be exciting if a standings point was on the line but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Anyway, if you must have shootouts, then make them a winner-takes-all affair – two points for the winner; none for the loser. Now THAT’S excitement.
* Straighten up the standings and statistics. For the statistically minded, one of the worst repercussions of the shootout-overtime rules is the so-called loser point...
+1 for the rake-fight idea, -5 for the "no loser points" argument. Here's my take: the things that an NHL team needs to do well to qualify for the playoffs should be substantially similar, if not identical, to the things they need to do well to succeed in the playoffs. Shouldn't the 8 playoff teams in each conference be the eight who are most likely to win the Stanley Cup?
I regularly hear basketball and baseball invoked by people making this argument (when they lose in OT, they lose!), but the fact that they're still playing the same game to break the tie in extra time is a major, major difference. Maybe you noticed -- the rules for extra time in those sports are identical to the rules for regulation time! Kinda like playoff hockey!
Without the "loser point" last season, Detroit would have been seeded 4th and Anaheim 6th. Was there much doubt that these were the two best teams in the conference? Yes, it makes a mess of the standings and the idea of .500 being average, but right now the OT/SO results are only making a marginal difference regarding qualifying and seeding in the playoffs. Dropping the loser point would make a hash of the whole thing.
When they institute the Shootout in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, then by all means make regular season shootouts all-or-nothing. Until then, it makes only barely more sense to break ties in an all-or-nothing manner with the shootout than with Jean's rake-fight, or a puck control relay, or a one-lap race.
Glove-tap to Dubya for the heads up.
Roli No Longer Oil Goalie?
"It hasn't been easy riding the pine for weeks at a time, not knowing if a fresh start somewhere else is ever coming - and if it does, having no idea where your family will have to pack up and move to next.
And his trials on the ice have seeped into his personal life, to the point that his children, five and seven years of age, were coming home in tears after being teased at school."
This is unfortunate news. The guy's soldiered on, despite less playing time. He could have easily won the Conn Smythe two years ago, and now his kids are being teased about him at school.
***Instant Update*** Steve Staios is a warrior.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
- I'll betcha good dough that Kipper is in net tomorrow night (I forgot #6 here, "...and then never played him anyway.")
- Probably a good thing tomorrow night's game is on TSN. Millions' voice could obviously use the rest, and Charlie Simmer might want to explore the possibility that -- while just "putting it on the net and getting some traffic" is very often the best play -- that ain't necessarily so every single time.
- Iginla & Phaneuf were awesome tonight, Kipper was excellent too. But how about that Craig Conroy? As of this moment, it's possible his salary is going to go UP next season. (Isn't there 10+ GMs who would gladly sign him for $5M/2yrs right now?)
- I understand Shane Doan is the about the superest guy in the league or something, but he got what he deserved tonight (a beating in two senses).
- And it's been 25+ years now, but Wayne-Gretzky-In-A-Snit is still one of my favourite things in hockey.
Monday, February 18, 2008
Hockey Hall of Fame writer Jim Matheson (that's his legal name; the only Edmonton area person with a longer one is Jarome Arthur-Leigh Adekunle Tig Junior Elvis Iginla) has a column up today about trades. While there's not too much interesting to me in that piece and while writing trade proposals isn't really my bag, something is very obvious to me: Mathieu Garon should be a hot commodity at the trade deadline and, if he's interested, Kevin Lowe might be able to get a good return for him. What's more, it might make sense for him to do that.
First of all, Garon probably isn't really this good. He's currently sitting at a .920 save percentage. He was at .907 and at .894 in 2005-06. He posted a .921 in 19 games in 2003-04. This is the first year in which he's really put up the save percentage that exceeds the league average and played a substantial amount of games. In light of his age and history, I'm doubtful that he's taken a real leap into the elite as opposed to just having a good/lucky season.
Second, there are some teams out there who you'd think might be susceptible to the indefinable charms of Kevin Lowe on this particular point. Lowe has some experience with parachuting a good goaltender into a team that's suffering from horrific goaltending. The results were pretty good. In particular, the Capitals stick out to me. He could also repeat the names "Martin Vagner, Maxime Daigneault and Derek Krestanovich" - those were the guys drafted with all of the picks that the Flyers traded Washington for Adam Oates when they had a hole to fill down the middle in 2002. (He shouldn't mention that the Caps moved the pick that was used on Vagner to get the pick that they used to take Alexander Semin but you get my drift.)
Washington is in a somewhat similar position to the Oilers of 2005-06, in that they're outshooting their opposition by a substantial margin at ES - they're second in the league at this at 5 on 5, according to behindthenet.ca. Despite that, they're at -0.2/60 at ES, 21st in the NHL, largely because the legendary duo of Olaf Kolzig and Brent Johnson. Kolzig, the de facto number one, is having a terrible season, posting an .889 save percentage. Kolzig's had one above average season in terms of save percentage in the last four and is getting up there in years. Washington has an .891 save percentage at the moment; the difference between that and the number posted by Garon is huge.
I don't necessarily think that Washington is as good as that Oilers team - I actually don't think that they're anywhere near that team - but they're sitting in a pretty sweet spot right now. They're two points behind the Hurricanes, with two games in hand and tied with Atlanta, with a game in hand. The Panthers sit two points back of Washington - the Capitals have a game in hand on them as well. The prize for the Oilers in 2005-06 if they could claw their way into the playoffs was 7th or 8th spot and a date with Dallas or Detroit; the prize for winning the Southeast is the 3rd seed and home ice for the first round, probably at least three games and a shot at a run that really moves tickets for next season. The Eastern Conference of 2007-08 isn't the Western Conference of 2005-06. There's a real shot at a run in a market where hockey tickets don't get sold just because they're hockey tickets.
Back in the days of Conkannen, I was doing the math on the difference between their save percentage and the save percentage posted by a league average goalie in terms of goals on a regular basis and it was astounding. It's the same with the Caps this year; they've seen about 1660 shots, league average is about .015 ahead of them...you're talking 25 goals or so to date. Four or five wins. For the twenty games remaining, that's a win or two and Garon has some gaudy shootout stats to point to as well. Garon's contract - he's signed for another year at $1MM is another selling point, particularly when Kolzig's contract is up this year.
Finally, it doesn't make sense for the Oilers to be holding onto value for this year or, probably, next year. I took some jabs at Lowe last year for trying to bring the Billy Beane when he doesn't quite get it. Beane made an interesting series of trades this offseason that Lowe should be paying some attention to. He traded Dan Haren (15-9, 137 ERA+, 222.7 IP last year) and Nick Swisher (127 OPS+ in 539 AB last year), despite the fact that the A's owned those guys on cheap contracts for a bit longer. Why did he do this? He did it because the A's weren't going to be competitive with those guys in the lineup and it made sense to transfer what value they might have to the future, when the A's anticipate being a stronger team. The return was a rather large haul of prospects. He's trying to build a team that can compete for a World Series, Haren and Swisher weren't going to be cheap contributors in the window when he perceives success to be likely - they're cashed in for guys who might be. It's the absolute right move to make.
If Lowe could get a first - and I know that people are going to point out what Bryzgalov pulled in return but the market is different at the trade deadline (shame that the Oilers didn't have a large 6'6" defenceman available last year to move) and you get situations where needs are glaring, the price of fixing them in terms of dollars is low and the return can be significant - I'd think that he'd have to think awfully long and hard about this trade. It'd be a defensible move from Washington's perspective, even with that price, I think, because the upside is so huge and it's now - it's not a maybe, down the road. This would be nowhere near the most lopsided trade deadline move of all time, in terms of expected impact versus cost.
I'm sure that anyone who's read this far is having a hard time wrapping their head around the possibility that Garon could possibly be worth that sort of a return but it's a case of extreme need meeting limited demand. I don't see any goalies out there who a GM could talk himself into believing could come in and play at an above average level and above average goaltending would be worth the world to Washington. I don't think that any of this will happen; indeed, I don't think that Kevin Lowe sees things the same way that I do but a move like I've suggested would be a real coup for the Oilers and a step in building towards a window for success.
Interview with Brad Humphreys
On to the Q&A...
What made you decide to move to Edmonton, and work at the University of Alberta?
The University of Alberta is a great university; the economics department is very strong and has a PhD program and I am very interested in working with graduate students. It’s a fantastic opportunity to work in a great research shop. I prefer urban living and Edmonton is a very livable city with a lot of great amenities.
What projects--academic or otherwise--are you working on at the moment?
I am working on several projects related to the economics of sports facilities. A graduate student and I are analyzing the effect of sports facilities on nearby residential property values. Another other grad student and I are investigating the effect of new facilities on attendance in junior hockey leagues. I am finishing up a book, The Business of Sport, which I am editing with Dennis Howard of the University of Oregon. It is three edited volumes of essays on various aspects of the sports business, written by academics and industry professionals. It will be published in June. I am also working on several research projects related to the economics of gaming and sports betting.
What was it like testifying in front of the U.S. Congress last year? Why did they call you?
I was called to testify on the New York Yankee PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) decision. The U.S. Internal Revenue Service ruled that the New York Yankees could issue tax exempt bonds to finance the construction of their new stadium. In 1986, Congress explicitly outlawed the use of tax exempt bonds to finance sports facility construction under certain conditions, which would usually apply to the new Yankee Stadium. The IRS ruling circumvents this, based on the claim that the project warranted the use of tax exempt bonds because of the economic impact that the stadium would allegedly generate. I was asked to testify about the lack of evidence supporting the assertion that a sports facility generates positive economic impact.
The hearing was a lot of fun. I testified with a friend and former colleague, Dennis Zimmerman, who is probably the leading expert in the world on bond financing for professional sports facilities. I hadn’t seen Dennis for several years, and he’s a really interesting guy. I went at it a bit with a congressman from Southern California during the question period, which was an interesting experience. I was testifying before Dennis Kucinich’s House sub-committee, and I got to talk with him a bit. An interesting experience, all-in-all.
You had a chance to be a participant at the “Role of Sports and Entertainment Facilities in Urban Development” conference hosted by the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce and University of Alberta on February 12th. For those who were unable to attend, could you share with us the ideas/arguments you presented at the conference, as well as any other thoughts you have on the conference as a whole?
I summarized my published research, and some research by other economists, on the economic impact of professional sports in the local economy in my presentation. I have gone back and looked at the economic performance of cities, in terms of income per capita, employment and wages, since 1969 looking for evidence that professional sports generate tangible economic benefits. Over this long period of time, there has been a lot of facility construction and renovation, expansion, and franchise movement. These changes provide variation in the quantity and quality of professional sports in cities over time, and I have looked for statistical evidence that changes in the “sports environment” in cities explains any of the observed variation in economic indicators over time.
The short answer is: they have not. Attracting teams and building bigger or newer facilities was not associated with economic growth, or changes in the levels of any of these economic indicators. Professional sports are not, and have never been, engines of economic growth in North American cities. They are effective at moving consumer’s entertainment from one part of the city to another, and raising employment and wages in one specific sector of the local economy, the Recreation and Amusements sector, which contains professional sports teams.
People interested in providing government subsidies to sports teams – team owners, real estate developers, elected officials, and others who will benefit directly from these subsidies – loudly and consistently claim that large, important economic benefits flow from professional sports. Their evidence takes the form of (1) unsupported assertions (“of course these benefits exist!”) coupled with ad hominem attacks on opponents (“only an idiot, or an economist, would believe that sports aren’t great for the local economy”) or (2) Economic Impact Studies that are really promotional forecasts based on badly flawed methodology.
My research does not mean that subsidies for new hockey arenas are bad. Sports clearly produce important intangible benefits in cities, which may justify government subsidies. My research just means that we – taxpayers, elected officials, team owners, and other stakeholders – should decide on subsidies based on these intangible benefits, not on overblown claims of economic benefits (“More jobs! Higher income!”) made by a few people who will benefit immensely from the subsidies.
I thought that the conference was very well put together and informative. This is a complex issue, and all sides were represented and allowed to make their case. Dan Mason put a lot of hard work into the conference, and was instrumental in getting a lot of prominent speakers from all over North America.
What is your take on the proposed downtown arena discussion so far? Does a new arena for the Oilers benefit the city of Edmonton, or just the owner(s) of the team? Or is this either/or dichotomy too simplistic? Will a downtown arena be beneficial to both the city and team?
A lot of people will benefit from a new arena; most of the benefits will be intangible. Oilers fans who go to games will benefit because they’ll have a much nicer facility, and it will have many more amenities than Rexall. Edmontonians who attend non-hockey events at the arena will benefit from having a nicer facility as well. Edmontonians will also benefit to the extent that a new arena increases civic pride and makes them feel like they live in a “world class city” if you buy that particular story, and from having more entertainment choices in town. Fans who don’t attend games will get some satisfaction knowing that their team plays in a state-of-the-art facility. Local businesses who want upgraded luxury seats and premium seating will benefit from having access to these. The team owner will benefit because the new arena will be a cash cow and generate much more revenues than Rexall. The owner of the Oilers will get most of the financial benefit from a new arena. The mayor will benefit because he’ll look like an effective politician. Property owners near the new arena will benefit from higher property values. The city will benefit from these higher property values, because property tax revenues will be higher.
Fans who expect that the team will be better may be disappointed, as there is little evidence that new sports facilities lead to prolonged success.
After observing many, many sports facility deals in many cities, my “take” is that in Edmonton, like everywhere else, interest group politics will dominate the wishes of the taxpaying electorate. If powerful local interest groups want a new arena paid for with taxpayers dollars, it will happen. Mancur Olson provided the economic basis for these sort of outcomes over 25 years ago, in The Logic of Collective Action.
Have you had, or been asked to participate in, any discussions with the City of Edmonton’s Arena Feasibility Committee? If so, can you give any insight into the sort of questions the committee had, and what answers you were able to provide them with?
I was not asked to participate in any of the Committees that were formed to look at this issue. I didn’t move to Edmonton until August, and I think the committees were formed before then. I have not been asked to provide any input to these committees.
Should Calgary Flames fans care about this issue?
Yes, because, like it or not, if the Province subsidizes the construction of a new arena in Edmonton, they will be paying for it too. Government dollars are fungible, and $100 million of Provincial money spent in Edmonton is $100 million not spent somewhere else.
One of the arguments being made by proponents of a downtown arena is that an arena as part of a bigger downtown development project is the way to go. They argue that while an arena by itself doesn’t provide any economic benefit to the city, an arena along with entertainment, commercial and/or residential properties will stimulate economic growth, and lead to a “revitalized” downtown core. Arena projects in Columbus, San Diego and Indianapolis have been used as examples. What are your thoughts on this idea, and these projects? Is the idea of a hockey arena as an “anchor” site for broader development one that makes economic sense?
This is a bit outside my area of expertise. I have walked around the arena in Columbus and the stadium in San Diego. A lot of development clearly took place there. I also understand that the developers in each case were given wide-ranging powers by the local government in each case to make this happen.
I am somewhat leery of simply looking at the best-case-scenarios from other cities and concluding: “it happened there, it will happen here.” 29 new arenas and stadiums have opened in North America since 2000. Columbus and San Diego are probably the most wildly successful. The others are less successful, some much less successful, in terms of revitalizing the surrounding area. For example, the new football and baseball stadiums in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, four facilities, have had very little impact on the surrounding areas. It is possible to have a profound effect on the surrounding community, but it is far from certain that this will happen.
To date, soon-to-be-owner Daryl Katz has pledged $100 million dollars towards the building of a new downtown facility. Yet the arena and the surrounding development is expected to cost substantially more than this. Where, in your mind, is the difference going to come from? Is there a way to finance the building that doesn’t involve some kind of public funding, short of Mr. Katz paying for the whole project himself?
If Katz can’t come up with enough money to bankroll the whole project, then there are two other sources of funding: government subsidies and other sources of private funding. Although government funding is the most common alternative source, there are plenty of recent examples for alternative private funding. For example, when the Blue Jackets’ ownership group could not privately finance the new arena, Nationwide Insurance stepped in and financed the rest privately in exchange for naming rights and other incentives. There is no reason to think that the same thing can’t happen here.
In a recent article in the Philadelphia Enquirer, sociology professor Rick Eckstein noted that the mainstream media “is noticeably biased toward supporting publicly financed stadiums, which has a significant impact on the initiatives' success.” You have been studying these debates for a long time now. Does Eckstein’s statement align with what you have seen and heard?
Absolutely. Eckstein, and his collaborator Kevin Delaney, have been exploring this idea for several years now. I have not read the book yet, but I vividly recall reading their related article “The Devil is in the Details: Neutralizing Critical Studies of Publicly Subsidized Stadiums” that was published a few years ago and having an “a Ha!” moment. It’s a very good explanation for why the general public doesn’t pay attention to research in this area. I have seen this play out many times in many cities; the local media is almost always strongly in favor of government subsidies for sports facility construction. In addition to the Delaney & Eckstein explanation, sports coverage helps newspapers’ sales and local television stations’ ratings. These media outlets have a vested interest in keeping pro sports heavily subsidized and happy because it contributes to their bottom lines.
And finally, Seattle Super Sonics ownership recently flip-flopped on the economic benefit their sports team will provide to the city because they want to get out of their current arena lease. Is it true, as your colleague Dennis Coates notes, that the Sonics hired you as an expert? If so, what did that feel like, having a professional sports team utilizing your findings to their benefit, rather than ignoring them or brushing them aside? That must have been surreal.
In order to break their lease, the Sonics have to prove that the local economy will not be damaged as a result of their departure. I have studied the effects of franchise departure on the local economy and published a number of papers in peer reviewed academic journals on this topic. My position has been consistent on the issue: professional sports do not generate tangible economic benefits in the local economy. Even the Edmonton Journal got the point last week. This research has a number of applications that are of interest to many different groups. To date, it has primarily been of interest to local grass roots organizations opposed to sports facility development projects. I have accepted compensation, in the form of travel expenses, from these groups. Beyond this, I can’t comment on pending litigation that I could potentially have a role in.
In addition to answering my questions, Brad has volunteered to answer any questions that our readers might have about the proposed downtown arena. I hope that all of you can take advantage of this, no matter what side of the issue you are currently on. Please ask your questions in the comments section. Brad will drop in every once in a while to answer what he can. Please keep things civil, at least with Brad. We can fight amongst ourselves, if that's what's required. :)
The transcript has been formatted for this blog, and a couple grammatical changes were made. Any errors in spelling or grammar are mine.
On behalf of Matt and myself, many thanks to Brad Humphreys for doing this Q&A with The Battle of Alberta. It was, and is, greatly appreciated. Have a great Family Day, everyone.
Labels: New Arena
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Flames Big Game Day
Usually the key to beating the Ducks is to take advantage of the fact that they're probably going to take more penalties than you, and outscore them on special teams. However, the Flames are one of the teams in the league least suited to do so.
Two sets of numbers on the left: the first is total GF on special teams minus total GA, and the second is of # of powerplays minus # of times shorthanded.
My statistical toolbox is pretty bare, but there is a certain degree of correlation that jumps out. Of the 12 teams at the bottom of penalty differential, not one has a positive goal differential on special teams. There's a small group of teams with poor results despite "good discipline" (COL, TOR, and especially CAR), and a small group who have gotten results that make up for "poor discipline" (DAL, CBJ, EDM, OTT).
But to some degree (medium-to-large?), the way to improve the impact of special teams on your squad's results is to take fewer penalties and draw more of them.
Here's hoping that the Flames stay out of the box; that David Moss' injury isn't too serious; that Marcus Nilson gets the call and plays well; that Selanne ties the Ducks' career scoring record on Wednesday in front of Earl, rather than tonight; that Tanguay starts playing as well with Iginla as he was last month with Nolan; and that the final score is something like Calgary 3, Anaheim 0. Go Flames.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
Big Game for the Oilers!
This awesome website demonstrates* that tonight's game vs Vancouver is, indeed, a huge game.
As a bonus, the site also tells us conclusively who to cheer for in the out of town games.
*Confession: I haven't actually had time to go through the assumptions of the calculations; but on first blush it seems sound to me.
Friday, February 15, 2008
Flames Game Night
This Week's Sign of how Persistent the Conventional Wisdom can be: just listened to Rob Kerr on FAN960 say something to the effect of, "I think we all agree that the Kings' biggest problem this year has been goaltending." This might have been (probably was) true last year -- I certainly remember Tony Amonte beating Cloutier from outside the blueline -- as well as early this season, when Bernier got tossed into the fire, and J.S. Aubin was still getting starts. But now? That's just not defensible.
Mudcrutch fave (and Calgary guy) Jason LaBarbera has a .910 SV% this season, which is 21st of 44 goalies with enough minutes. By contrast, Kipper is 36th, Cam Ward is 37th, and Olaf Kolzig is 44th. 21st of 44 isn't blowing anyone's skirt up I suppose, but it's quite clearly not an explanation for why his team is dead last in the league. The facts that they're outshot by 3 shots a game, or that they allow the 4th-most shots per game, or that their PK is 3rd-worst in the NHL, would seem to be a lot more relevant. Not to mention that, for all the talk about their talented young forward corps, Alex Frolov is their only guy who can drive positive results 5v5 (Kopitar has a loooooong way to go, and the numbers say that since the early season when Mike Cammalieri led the league in goals, he's been... terrible).
Anyway, survey says, Jason LaBarbera is an $850k/yr steal. Apparently he gets the start tonight, and Diamond Dan goes tomorrow v. PHX. Nonetheless, I'll say the Flames squeak out a 3-2 Win to go to 2-0 on the road trip (Huselius x2, Moss). Go Flames.
Friday Baseball Standings
The Oilers are a case in point. They're 4-1 in their last 5 (all Wins in 60 minutes, well done), and they simply do not look like they're in much better shape than they did before. Last night they won, and the teams tied for 7th/8th both lost, and yet they're still 3-1/2 games out of the playoffs. On account of the Hawks being on a nice little streak (3-0-1), they haven't even moved up a single placing! Two weeks ago, the Oil was 3-1/2 out; last Friday they were 4 out; and today they're 3-1/2 out.
The Lightning are 8-3-1 in their last 12; the result has been that they have climbed out of 15th, and narrowed the distance from the SE leader from 4 games to 2 games. And yet they still have to pass every team in their division, and are 4 back of the 8-seed (Boston).
**Bonus link: I have near-zero interest in the ongoing steroids/Clemens/blah-blah, but I enjoyed this piece from last month's Washington Post urging Congress to pull their heads out of their rears. I do think Gillespie and Welch are slightly overconfident that they're part of the silent majority:
When 84-year-old retired senator Bob Dole, born in a year during which Babe Ruth hit 41 homers, is better known as a shill for erectile-dysfunction drugs than as a statesman, you've probably lost middle America on the notion that all drugs are automatically bad.
The centre of the debate is shifting, but until people start losing elections in middle America because they're too tough on drugs, the authors are projecting.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
I Heart Fernando
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Also, I enjoyed this Buccigross column -- it's an interesting exercise -- if not his frequently ludicrous choices and even more ludicrous reasoning. Seems like something I'd try and re-do better in a week where I had some spare time, which this isn't.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Flames Game Night
I agree 100% that Godard needs to be spotted into the lineup rather than occasionally scratched, and hell yeah Sarich has looked lousy at times. There's two things that are guaranteed to elicit an Oh For F**k's Sake from me: (1) Eriksson lets a puck bounce by him at the point while an opponent accelerates towards him, and (2) Sarich puts a (say it together) weak backhand clearing attempt into the glove of an opposing player lurking 4 feet inside the Flames' blue line.
The good news, besides what MG notes (Huselius really does look better lately) is that results probably should get better. The Flames have treaded water (6-6-1 in the last 13) with their best player, #1 line, and #1 PP unit producing virtually nothing. Sarich has been very good for long stretches previously, and no doubt will again. And realistically, Godard will be gone from the lineup soon enough. (Hey, maybe Marcus Nilson will look that much better in March and April (and May) for having sat out half the season.)
The play of Kipper and the PK have risen from way below par early in the season to pretty solid now. And for all the concern, which I share, about the schedule over the next 9 games, March's schedule is absolutely ripe if the Flames can make it there in decent position. And finally, and perhaps best of all, the Red Wings are finally looking human.
I'm shelling out for the PPV tonight, and planning on using my special Charlie Simmer Mute Feature. (I rigged up a little electronic doodad to emit a high pitched shriek for 7 seconds every time the TV says 'Again Roger'. I figure it'll be preferable.)
Calgary 2 (Iginla, Huselius)
San Jose 1 (I love you Carle. Er, Marge.)
Monday, February 11, 2008
Tonight in Rexall Village, Allen Ginsberg will perform a reading of "Howl"
"It's like a spaceship. It lands, the people go in and out periodically, and then the spaceship just stays there. That's what we argue cities should not do," Mark Rosentraub, a professor of urban affairs at Cleveland State University said Thursday of the present arena.
Rosentraub, who has studied how downtown sports arenas have helped revitalize the central core in cities like Indianapolis, Los Angeles and San Diego, said Edmonton can benefit in much the same way.
"Now's the time to move the arena, move the urban fabric — connect with that and build the Greenwich Village of Western Canada," he said.
Bold is mine. I actually have no words for this. I am completely speechless. I thought Dan Mason's statement about Edmonton's chance to move up the "Global Urban Food Chain" was the single most ridiculous statement in defence of a downtown arena ever uttered, but I was wrong. This takes the cake.
Labels: New Arena
Saturday, February 09, 2008
Battle Game Day
Somehow the Oilers have won two straight without Shawn Horcoff, while the Flames have lost three of four with Jarome Iginla. It's a mad world, folks. The last time these teams met, the outcome was...pleasant.
If I remember correctly--and I do--Zack Stortini was a big factor in last Tuesday's game. The Hall of Famer says the Flames want a piece of him tonight, too, without quoting a single Calgary player. I hope he's right, but I doubt it. The Flames played stupid hockey on Tuesday. I'd be shocked if they let Stortini bug them this time around. Shocked, I say! Not shocking: Dion Phaneuf chasing Sam Gagner around the rink, then hiding from Ethan Moreau.
I just assumed Sheldon Souray was done for the year, but apparently he might be back in March. I suppose this could be true. More likely, though, is that the player and the team are fooling themselves, both in terms of his injury and their chances at making the playoffs. A real cynic--like, for example, me--might suggest that everyone's trying to save face here, in light of, cough, Mr. Souray's hefty paycheque. Bonus news in that story: Shawn Horcoff is bored already, and looking for something to occupy his time. Shawn...let's talk.
Glengarry Glencross has to draw in tonight, right? Right? Does Nilsson get the short end of the stick, then? Gotta be.
Game within the game: both teams running the opposing team's starting netminder. Or...not. Like. Whoa.
Prediction: 4-3 Oilers, in a heated tilt. Penner, Moreau, Cogliano, and San Pisani with the goals. GOILERS!!!
Friday, February 08, 2008
Katz Teleconference Exclusive
Katz: It's a pleasure to be with you today under these happy circumstances, and I'm excited to get all the paperwork completed and move forward as the owner of the best franchise in the NHL. I'm happy to take questions at this time.
Terry Jones, Edmonton Sun: Yes, Daryl: can you sleep at night knowing that you've made your billions on the backs of the sick and unfortunate, many of whom can't make it through a single day without your marked-up products?
Katz: Adequate sleep is a key part of a healthy lifestyle, Terry, as well as regular exercise and a balanced diet. Though I suppose I don't need to go into detail here, look who I'm talking to.
Dan Barnes, Edmonton Journal: During the bid process, you referenced your willingness to contribute $100M to the construction of a downtown arena "...for the team and the City if that's what the people of Edmonton want." Could you clarify if that means you would contribute that money towards a facility that would be owned by the City/Northlands, or if you expect the people of Edmonton to cover the rest of the costs for a facility you would own?
Katz: The Katz Group is a privately held company.
Vue Weekly: There's a Facebook group called Daryl Katz is Batman. How do you respond to comparisons between you and Bruce Wayne?
Katz: Well, there are obvious differences. Batman fights diabolical geniuses with a series of crime fighting weapons that he pays for himself; I'm more the kind of guy who gets rid of winos and crackheads with my new arena-shaped, publicly-financed wino/crackhead ray.** Yes, Matty, go ahead.
Jim Matheson, Edmonton Journal: In Lowe's defence, if he had known that the salary cap would be going up, he might have done things a bit differently.
Katz: Is that a question? Your voice didn't even go up at the end.
David Staples, Edmonton Journal: I have a follow-up. The Lowe-lynchers would have you forget that he signed Mathieu Garon at a great price, and he might be the MVP this season.
Katz: Thanks for that. Yes, Terry.
Jones: Did you see that ad during the Super Bowl, where the drug dealer is complaining about slow business because kids are getting high off of stuff from the medicine cabinet? How do you look at yourself in the mirror each morning?
Katz: Standing on expensive Italian tile, heated to a comfortable temperature.
John Mackinnon: Any chance of bringing in Bill Butler as a partner for the downtown arena development? He seems like a hell of a guy.
Katz: Maybe if we need some additional financing. [Katz & Mackinnon both laugh]
Mark Messier, Private Citizen: Have you ever hired someone to be a Rexall VP because he was an excellent pharmacist?
Matheson: In Lowe's defence, it's hard to know how good this team is on account of all the injuries. Souray and Moreau alone have missed a combined 68 games.
Katz: Let's just say that intelligent people can disagree on what constitutes "foreseeable".
Barnes: You must have appreciated the vote of confidence from Wayne Gretzky. Would you say you're more of a McNall type, or a Pocklington type?
Katz: I have no comment. It's my preference to be private and to keep a low profile.
hockeybuzz.com: Can we expect any immediate changes? I'm hearing Pitkanen and Reasoner to the Rangers for Marek Malik and a 1st-rounder.
Katz: I gotta confess: I made that one up for my NHL rumours blog, but I'll be shutting that down now. Last question.
Mike W, Covered In Oil: How do you expect to fare in your first Hot-Off on Hot Oil?
Katz: If they do shirtless, I'd expect to at least make the semis. Thanks for coming out, everyone. [Gets into Batmobile, drives away.]
**Great line courtesy of mc79hockey
Labels: New Ownership
Bohemian Like You
Based on this editorial in the Journal, I think we can ascertain two things about the "proposed" downtown arena.
1) It is going to cost over a billion dollars. What else can be expected, when "city staff estimate that doing typical entryways with landscaping and new green signs would cost about $600,000"?
2) It's going to look like the Fortress of Solitude. We'll all enjoy its "dangerousness," though, whatever the f**k that means.
Shoot me now.
Labels: New Arena
Friday Baseball Standings
The lads need to curb-stomp the Oil tomorrow night and be a bit above the black line as they head into the toughest stretch of the season. Go Flames.
Thursday, February 07, 2008
Flames Game Night
I made a couple of deadline deals, sending Rhett Warrener to the Penguins for impending UFA Jarkko Ruutu, and then picking up a temporary 7th D somewhere else (say Klemm or Dallman from the Kings) for a late pick.
Eriksson gets shipped out in late June to the Wings, who let Lilja walk and want a 1-year veteran bridge to Meech/Quincey.
Re-signings: Conroy for 2 years/$3.5M; Hale for 2 years/$1.5M; McElhinney for 2 years/$1.5M; and (ta-da!) Langkow is back for 4 years/$18M. Giordano returns from Moscow and gets his one-way deal.
Since there is no money with which to re-sign Huselius or anyone remotely as skilled, we go to our only organizational hope: 19-year-old Mikael Backlund jumps straight from Sweden to the big leagues.
Aucoin stays, because he has a NTC and frankly I think we'll need him. Primeau stays because there's virtually zero chance of dumping his deal (2 years left!) on another NHL team. Nilson stays because -- pending the next 25-50 games -- I'm not sure how far ahead you get by replacing him. And Tanguay stays because he's needed (or from another angle: the idea of getting rid of him would have to be to get better performance for the same money, or equivalent performance for less money, and neither is possible, to my way of thinking (and looking at the UFA/trading block crop)).
This could be worse, for sure, although I may have exceeded the cap by a few hundred grand. This results in a top 3 lines of (~) Boyd-Lombardi-Iginla, Tanguay-Langkow-Moss, and Backlund-Conroy-Nilson.
Tonight's game: Calgary 3, Chicago 1. Calgary takes the early 2-goal lead and everything is dang boring. Go Flames.
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
There you have it. The bed is made. The Flames have a good core of players signed long-term for, as a whole, very reasonable salaries. If the team is good, this will be an unbelievable blessing. If it's not... uh...
The Monster Bash
Prediction: Let's make this a group effort. Who does Pierre McGuire fawn over tonight? Who's his
Crosby. Sundin. Crosby.
***Update*** Also note that Team 1260 will be airing the teleconference with Daryl Katz, starting at 12 p.m. MST.
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
Katz Gets 100%
Rexall Founder and Chairman Daryl Katz said today that Rexall Sports Corp. has received letters of acceptance representing 100% of the total shares outstanding in Edmonton Investor Group Holdings...
Mr. Katz also announced plans to create an advisory board that will participate in the stewardship of the team and its ongoing relationship with the fans and the City. The Board will be comprised of up to five current EIG shareholders and other community leaders.
Labels: New Arena, New Ownership
- CuJo got the start, and looked as bad as a goalie can without letting one in from the red line. He was terrible handling the puck, and made poor decisions with it, and kicked out massive rebounds all night. Some might look at it as "hey, he actually made a few nice saves"; I look at it as, "name a goalie in the league who would have allowed more goals".
- One of the Flames' comparative advantages this season is supposed to be veteran savvy. The roster is jammed with guys who won't win a lot of races to pucks, but can more than make up for it with skill, smarts, & experience. Yet for some reason, in my nightmare, both halves of their veteran shutdown D pair took fighting majors against a guy whose only conceivable usefulness as an NHL player is to goad effective players into taking fighting majors.
Monday, February 04, 2008
Battle of Alberta Game Day
*Thanks to the ongoing cold, snotty kids, or who knows, I seem to have contracted some disease that has sapped my ability to care about anything except survival.
**Today the Oilers lost their best player to shoulder surgery for the remainder of the season.
***The Flames are facing one of those must-win/no-win weeks. @EDM, then home to PHX, CHI, and EDM. Anything short of 6 points in those 4 games will have to be considered a major step backwards, because the remainder of the February sked is pretty uninviting (road trip through the entire Silicone Tits Division, followed by vDET, @MIN, vCOL, @ANA).
Reasons to Watch:
- CuJo's first start as a Flame
- What centreman does MacT consider to be Pensky material?
- Iginla is due to bust out
- Matt Greene's signature "reverse the puck to no one" is always worth a chuckle
- Phaneuf always seems to play great against the Oil
- If the result is anything but a narrow Flames win, the post-game comments from the losing coach are bound to be entertaining
Friday, February 01, 2008
Friday Baseball Standings
Let's look at the East for a change. Note that it's actually the Rangers, not Buffalo, sitting in the #8 seed for the moment, because the SE leader vaults up to #3. However, my point is not to laugh at the ol' South-Least again; it's to note that the SE teams are actually pretty close to the #8 seed. Even if the Caps were to go out 25-5 and run away with the SE title, Carolina is only half a game back of the Rangers. Also:
- Note the chasm below the Bruins. Like the Flames in November, the Canucks are presently demonstrating what kind of trouble a losing streak can get you into, but those top 6 teams are presently a pretty sound bet to make the second season.
- What was with all the morons over the All-Star break lumping Buffalo in with the Leafs, Bolts, and Kings? I'm not saying these are the guaranteed best kind of standings, but you have, have, have to pay attention to the GP column, not just the Pts column.
1) Where does the roster look unbalanced (salary- and veteran-heavy) to you? If your answer is "At LW" or "too many effective well-paid forwards", uh, I gotta wonder about you.
2) Can we agree that it's likely that one or two of Aucoin, Warrener, and Eriksson will be moved by late June at the latest?
3) Can we agree that trade rumours involving more than one of Lombardi, Boyd, and Moss are ludicrous?
4) I didn't quite catch all the intricacies of "tagging" during the Niedermayer comeback, but am I right in saying that the Flames probably can't sign any more contract extensions until one of: (A) some salary is dumped, or (B) next year's cap is set? Even re-signing a player at a lower salary than he's making now (e.g. Conroy) would seem to be difficult, given how close next year's salaries are to this year's cap.
5) Can we agree that, barring a really good trade where Sutter dumps some salary on D without making the team worse, that the Flames roster is probably better this year than it will be next year?