Pittsburgh should get a desperately needed image boost from baseball's All-Star Game in two years, but it's not likely to get much help on its bottom line, economists say.
Last week's All-Star weekend was supposed to generate $85.6 million for Houston's economy and the 2005 events is supposed to produce $50 million for Detroit.
Estimates were not available for Pittsburgh yesterday, but with the city currently on track for a projected $78 million budget deficit in 2006, city officials will surely trumpet windfalls they can get.
In Detroit and Houston, the estimated numbers for out-of-town visitors were 30,000 to 67,000, respectively.
But many economics experts who study the intersection of commerce and sports have found the sky-high expectations rarely, if ever, pay off.
Victor Matheson, an economics professor at the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts, studied labor statistics from 23 All-Star games from 1973 to 1997 and found actual job growth lagged behind projected growth in every case. Games in Montreal and Toronto were omitted.
In a study of county sales taxes at All-Star sites, in Oakland, Anaheim and San Diego, Calif., he showed quarterly tax collections dropped in each case.
According to Matheson, the sales tax drop shows that "mega-events" such as All-Star games can crowd out other possible city visitors: Somebody who otherwise might have booked a convention or conference that weekend in July will pick another date, to avoid the crowding.
Another theory is that visitors who would go to a city anyway that summer to see the sights pick All-Star weekend for something extra to do.
"There might be identical people going to different things," said Dennis Coates, an economics professor at the University of Maryland-Baltimore.
"Instead of traipsing around the riverfront or going to Carnegie Mellon, they go to a baseball game. They're still there three days, but not all of them are spent congregating in a stadium."
Look, I favor Houston's attempts to attract big sporting events, conventions, stuff that brings in visitors. As I said before, I think most people who come here have pretty low expectations, and most of them return home having had those expectations greatly exceeded. Whatever economic impact we may get - and please note, my main gripe here is that all we ever get are a bunch of blue sky numbers pulled from someone's back pocket - having people come to Houston and see for themselves that it's not such a bad place after all is worthwhile. All I want is a little perspective.
Via David, who like me will not be attending his city's All Star Game.Posted by Charles Kuffner on July 20, 2004 to Baseball | TrackBack