Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

Cowboys Stadium

Pushing the NFL Draft angle

Every angle is going to be needed, and this is one that ought to speak to some folks.

The Cowboys’ efforts to land the NFL draft and how it could be derailed by the legislative push for a bathroom bill is part of a $1 million ad buy that will begin to play on radio stations Tuesday.

The Texas Association of Business is behind the ads. The Cowboys aren’t associated with the campaign, but they are featured.

A woman describes herself as a lifelong Cowboys fan and talks about how she’s thrilled that the 2018 draft could be in North Texas. She then says the NFL could reject the club’s bid to host the festivities, costing Texas “millions of dollars in lost revenue and leaving a lot of Cowboys fans angry” if the bathroom bill passes in Texas.

The one-minute ad ends by asking fans to contact their legislators to tell them to reject the bill and bring the NFL draft to Texas. The spot, which will run on 26 stations in the Dallas area, is designed to expand the debate and spotlight potential consequences.

“The bathroom bill distracts from the real challenges we face and would result in terrible economic consequences–on sporting events, talent, on tourism, on investment, on growth, and on small businesses,” said Jeff Moseley, CEO of the Texas Association of Business. “That’s why TAB and the Keep Texas Open for Business coalition are investing heavily in radio ads in DFW and focusing on potentially losing the NFL Draft and remain steadfastly opposed to this unnecessary legislation.”

[…]

Behind the scenes, multiple sources say the Cowboys are letting lawmakers know how passage of this bill could negatively impact the franchise’s ability to book sporting and entertainment events at AT&T Stadium and The Star in Frisco. One source described the club’s lobbying efforts against the bill’s passage as “quiet and aggressive.”

The club, like so many other businesses, finds itself in a delicate position. It doesn’t want to antagonize Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the bill’s primary proponent, since there will be a variety of bills down the road that can aid the Cowboys and officials will seek support from the two. But the Cowboys want to get across how they believe altering existing law will impact their bottom line.

Corporations outside the state can threaten not to build or move existing projects and operations out of Texas if the bill passes. The Cowboys don’t have that sort of leverage.

What will Jones do if the bill passes? Move the franchise to Little Rock?

No. But club officials can discreetly point out that the U2 concert that recently took place at AT&T Stadium would not have found its way to Texas if this bill had been law. It can question whether the Big 12 Championship Game and other marquee college matchups and events will be staged in Arlington going forward.

There’s embedded audio of the ad in the piece linked above if you want to hear it. The NFL Draft and the Cowboys’ efforts to bring it to Dallas next year has come up before; this is just a way to bring more attention to that. Whether this campaign will affect how any member of the House votes on bathroom bills I can’t say, but I can say this: AT&T Stadium is located in Arlington, and it is represented in Austin by a total of six people: Sens. Kelly Hancock and Konni Burton, and Reps. Jonathan Stickland, Matt Krause, Tony Tinderholt, and Chris Turner. All but Turner are Republicans, and all but Turner are Yes votes on potty-related legislation. In fact, Stickland and Krause and Tinderholt are all members of the lunatic House Freedom Caucus, whose bill-killing maneuvers at the end of the regular session allowed Dan Patrick to take the sunset bills hostage and force the special session we are now enduring. So, while I greatly appreciate the Cowboys’ lobbying efforts, which no doubt carry far more weight than most, there very much is something they can do afterwards, whether one of these bills passes or not: They can put some of that weight behind an effort to get themselves better representation in the Legislature. It’s not a high bar to clear in this case. Just a reminder that the fight doesn’t end at sine die. The Chron has more.

Can we really measure the economic impact of sports events?

I don’t know, but they’re going to give it a try in Dallas.

Spending in the region on mega sporting events since the Dallas Cowboys moved to Arlington could top $1 billion when next month’s Final Four and next year’s college football championship are played.

Those numbers — a combination of spending projections for eight past and future events — are highlighted by boosters and treated with suspicion by some scholars. But supporters and skeptics partly agree on the long-term benefits of events from the Super Bowl to NBA All-Star Game. They conclude it’s extremely difficult to quantify, if that’s even possible.

John Crawford, president and CEO of Downtown Dallas Inc., said he’s certain there’s a lasting and significant benefit to hosting these mega events, one after the other. But he said the only research he’s seen focused on short-term effects.

“I’ve never seen anything to quantify the indirect returns on investment,” he said. “I don’t even know how they would go about doing that.”

[…]

Victor Matheson, economics professor at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., said researchers pursued these types of questions without much luck.

“A lot of people have tried to look and see whether there is any long-term impact [of sports mega events],” he said. “We’ve never been able to pick up any. … I can’t even think anecdotally of an example about a business that relocated a corporate headquarters because the CEO had such a great time at the Super Bowl or Final Four.”

Officials in Dallas and Arlington said they couldn’t point to many specifics. However, the Arlington Convention & Visitors Bureau hopes to fill that research gap.

Decima Cooper, a bureau spokeswoman, said the bureau is talking with unnamed Arlington partners about conducting extensive research on the impact of large tourist events. If possible, they want to look at everything from mega events at AT&T Stadium to the much smaller Art on the Greene festival and calculate the benefits beyond the initial spending.

“What we’re trying to find out is exactly the impact of the events that happen in our city, not only the obvious impacts,” Cooper said.

She said she couldn’t be more specific since this is still in the planning stages. The scope of the research is expected to be finalized this year.

The CVB previously looked at the overall economic impact of tourism on Arlington but did not specifically single out AT&T Stadium events.

Matheson said any benefits would likely be so small that they would be lost in the region’s huge economy.

“No one has been able to identify these lingering impacts, especially from these short events where you don’t build anything new,” Matheson said. “It’s bad enough when you’re trying to quantify a bunch of people coming to town for one weekend. But then looking two or three years and seeing if you can see a bump, that’s a really small needle in a really big haystack.”

As you know, this is a subject that has long been near to my heart, going back to the halcyon days of the 2004 Super Bowl in Houston. It’s easy enough to visualize what a short-term economic effect of a big sporting event is – number of visitors, money spent on things like hotels, bars, taxis, etc – even if it’s difficult to separate it from normal activity. As Prof. Matheson says, I have no idea how you’d define, let along measure, a long-term effect. But I’m glad they’re trying! More data is good, even if it’s little more than fodder for mockery. Maybe the Arlington Convention & Visitors Bureau will find something interesting, even if it’s not what they were looking for. I can’t wait to see what they come up with. ThinkProgress has more on a related matter.

Lawsuits filed over Super Bowl experiences

A couple of ticket-related issues from Super Bowl XLV will be going to the courthouse.

Two ticket holders, Mike Dolabi, who lives in Tarrant County, and Steve Simms, a Pennsylvania resident, filed the lawsuit in federal court late Tuesday night against the Dallas Cowboys , team owner Jerry Jones and the NFL. The plaintiffs are asking for $5 million, which includes separate claims for each.

The first claim is that Cowboys season ticket holders – including Dolabi – with the priciest seats received inadequate tickets for the Super Bowl. According to the filing, “almost all of these seats lacked any reasonable view of the stadium’s prized ‘video board,’ which Defendant Jones and the Cowboys routinely claim is the one of the most unique and best features of Cowboys Stadium.”

Simms was one of the 400 fans whose seats were not completed in time for the game and didn’t have a replacement seat. They were allowed to stay inside the stadium, but in some cases, only saw the game on video monitors. The NFL has offered those fans triple the face value of the tickets and free tickets to next year’s Super Bowl in Indianapolis.

Via Steph Stradley, here’s a first person account from one of the poor SOBs whose ticket to the game was deemed unusable because the seats weren’t up to code. This is a class action suit, with up to maybe a thousand plaintiffs, so don’t get hung up on the five million dollar figure. Here’s a tidbit to put that in perspective.

Dolabi […] is among a group called “Founders” who paid $100,000 per seat just for the right to buy tickets. Those so-called personal seat licenses resulted in more than $100 million in revenue for Jones, according to the lawsuit.

You’ve heard those complaints recently about how the NFL is losing touch with the non-rich these days? Keep those numbers in mind. Anyway, I believe the NFL and the Cowboys deserve to feel some pain for this debacle. We’ll see how it goes. See here for more.

Hey, spread some of that wealth around, willya?

Some Metroplex cities are seeing more of an economic benefit from hosting the Super Bowl than others. I know, try to control your shock.

Some Frisco hotels located an hour’s drive from Cowboys Stadium, the game site, are packed. Lewisville, Southlake, Richardson and a few other cities are expecting to siphon off some of the action with events of their own.

In other places, the big game might not make much of an economic blip. Duncanville and McKinney have planned few, if any, big game-related events. And Denton, a member of the Super Bowl host committee, still has many hotel rooms available despite a big promotional push.

Kim Phillips, vice president of the Denton Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the game’s regional benefits are undeniable. But the city has found it harder than expected to fill its 2,000 hotel rooms.

“There’s not a whole lot of action happening,” Phillips said of Denton, which is about 40 miles north of Arlington. “We’ve still got a couple of weeks before the game. Hopefully, we’ll see an influx of fans when the teams are announced. Right now, we still have quite a bit of availability.”

Good luck with that. As someone who has no interest in traveling to an event like this, I have no idea what to tell you.

One thing really stood out to me from this story:

The game is expected to draw more than 700,000 visitors and 4,600 credentialed media to North Texas. The economic activity is expected to spawn $10 million in local tax revenue and an additional $36 million in state taxes.

Seven hundred thousand visitors? Really? Looking back in my archives, Super Bowl XXXVIII here in Houston was projected to draw 104,000 visitors. I know JerryWorld is big, but it doesn’t hold that many people. Who are all these people coming into the D/FW area to not attend a football game, and why are they doing that?