Archive for February, 2009

Reminder: Dr. Brad Humphreys on The Economic Impact of Sports Facilities

Tomorrow, Thursday February 26 at 7-8pm Kennesaw State University will be hosting the 10th Annual Grady Palmer Distinguished Lecture. The lecture is open to the public, and I believe that many people in the Atlanta area may be interested in hearing this year’s speaker.

Dr. Brad R. Humphreys of the University of Alberta will be presenting “What Do Economists Know About the Economic Impact of Sports Facilities?” Brad is one of the discipline’s leading authorities on the topic, and my opinions on the Gwinnett Braves stadium issue have been heavily influenced by his research. I encourage anyone interested in the topic to attend. Also, if you want to learn more about the Sport Management program at KSU, this would be a good opportunity to meet some of our faculty and majors.

You can find more information here. If you have any questions about the event, please feel free to contact me.

Speaker: Dr. Brad R. Humphreys
Topic: “What Do Economists Know About the Economic Impact of Sports Facilities?”
Location: Kennesaw State University, Convocation Center, Room 2016
Time: 7-8pm (with reception to follow)
Anticipated Economic Impact to the Community: $0

Directions and Parking: I suggest parking in the KSU East Deck. Ignore the “reserved parking” signs, as I have made arrangements to allow visitors to park in the deck. The Convocation Center is the first building on your right as you exit the parking deck. Proceed to the front of the building (facing the main campus) and enter through the front doors. The room is on the left side of the lobby.


View Larger Map

More Taxes in Gwinnett

From Gwinnett Daily Post:

Gwinnett officials intend to raise taxes to balance the government budget and put more police officers and firefighters on the street.

Nearly two months after commissioners voted on a temporary spending plan for 2009, officials said they won’t use any of the county’s rainy day fund to balance the permanent budget, to be adopted next week.

But the new proposal is about $10 million more than the interim operating plan, and officials said they are hoping for $65 million in additional revenues to make up the difference.

“I don’t see much way to find that revenue without some adjustment to the millage rate,” County Administrator Jock Connell said.

The stadium isn’t responsible for the entire shortfall, but the County sure could use the $19 million in tax revenues already directed to the project, in addition to the $33 million that the County has already borrowed. The Board of Commissioners claimed the County could afford the stadium with ease—in fact, I believe that someone said the stadium would pay for itself from day one—clearly, this was a false statement.

Addendum: The AJC reports where the county has found some extra funding.

The county also plans to increase revenue by $6.5 million by raising fees for things such as Red Cross training, business licenses, mail fees for vehicle tags and gas leak emergency response.

In all, the county has eliminated about 120 positions, and a hiring freeze remains in effect until at least July.

Which has more positive externalities? Red Cross training or a stadium.

Further Addendum: And in case you’re wondering, here is the compensation paid to the man who said the stadium would pay for itself from day one.

GWINNETT COUNTY

County administrator: Jock Connell

Time in job: Four years

Salary: $234,090 base salary

Perks: Deferred compensation contribution equal to maximum amount allowed under federal tax law ($22,000 for 2009); $300 biweekly car allowance; an additional 80 hours of annual vacation leave

An Econ Major to Root For

Burke Badenhop gives me a reason to cheer for him.

“I’ve got no problems giving out tax money,” he continues, “as long as it’s earmarked to the right places. That’s what the economy is – allocating proper capital to people who need it, people who are going to make it double, triple …”

What in the name of Alan Greenspan does this 26-year-old pitcher know about capital asset ratio, microfinancing and product differentiation? “Not much,” he said with a laugh.

But he knows plenty more than most baseball players. Badenhop graduated from Ohio’s Bowling Green State University in 2005 with an economics degree and a 3.94 GPA.

“He took four classes from me and got all A’s, and some were tough upper-level courses,” said BGSU economics professor Timothy Fuerst, whom Badenhop credits with sparking his interest in the subject during his freshman year. “One class was on the Great Depression, which is pretty appropriate now.”

Badenhop wrote a term paper on sports economics. “One issue was whether it makes sense to use state money for new stadiums, and I remember Burke was skeptical about using public money,” Fuerst said with a laugh. “You better not tell that to his employers!”

Thanks to Skip for the pointer.

Thoughts on Garret Anderson

The Braves signed Garret Anderson to a one-year $2.5 million deal yesterday. What do I think of this deal? Here is what I wrote to a friend via e-mail last November.

I think the Braves would be wise to pass on [Will Ohman], because they need to get a better team before they start picking up veteran relievers. I am so afraid that they’re going to sign AJ Burnett and Garret Anderson. I’ll breathe easier when/if those guys are on another club.

I have changed my mind on Anderson. I was afraid that the Braves would sign him early and to a much bigger contract, possibly for several seasons. The outfield is better, and at a low price. I’m just going to have to live with Joe Simpson praising his Hall-of-Fame credentials for the rest of the season.

Frank Wren deserves credit for a successful offseason. While problems with potential acquisitions of Peavy, Furcal, and Griffey dominated the news coverage, the actual acquisitions of Derek Lowe, Javier Vazquez, and Kenshin Kawakami have made the Braves a playoff contender.

Addendum: Jayson Stark sums up the team’s improvement.

Where Is the Caffeine Outrage?

Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2008 Aug;18(4):412-29.

The effect of caffeine as an ergogenic aid in anaerobic exercise.

Woolf K, Bidwell WK, Carlson AG.
Department of Nutrition, Arizona State University

The study examined caffeine (5 mg/kg body weight) vs. placebo during anaerobic exercise. Eighteen male athletes (24.1+/-5.8 yr; BMI 26.4+/-2.2 kg/m2) completed a leg press, chest press, and Wingate test. During the caffeine trial, more total weight was lifted with the chest press, and a greater peak power was obtained during the Wingate test. No differences were observed between treatments for the leg press and average power, minimum power, and power drop (Wingate test). There was a significant treatment main effect found for postexercise glucose and insulin concentrations; higher concentrations were found in the caffeine trial. A significant interaction effect (treatment and time) was found for cortisol and glucose concentrations; both increased with caffeine and decreased with placebo. Postexercise systolic blood pressure was significantly higher during the caffeine trial. No differences were found between treatments for serum free-fatty-acid concentrations, plasma lactate concentrations, serum cortisol concentrations, heart rate, and rating of perceived exertion. Thus, a moderate dose of caffeine resulted in more total weight lifted for the chest press and a greater peak power attained during the Wingate test in competitive athletes.

Nice Work, Federal Government!

From the AP:

A federal judge has barred prosecutors from using three positive steroid tests and other key evidence in Barry Bonds’ trial next month because of his personal trainer’s refusal to testify.

Federal agents seized the samples when they raided BALCO in 2003.

All that work for nothing. And when A-Rod starts suing to find the leakers, it’s going to get even more expensive. What an absolute embarrassment.

The Economic Impact of Sports Facilities

On Thursday February 26 at 7-8pm Kennesaw State University will be hosting the 10th Annual Grady Palmer Distinguished Lecture. The lecture is open to the public, and I believe that many people in the Atlanta area may be interested in hearing this year’s speaker.

Dr. Brad R. Humphreys of the University of Alberta will be presenting “What Do Economists Know About the Economic Impact of Sports Facilities?” Brad is one of the discipline’s leading authorities on the topic, and my opinions on the Gwinnett Braves stadium issue have been heavily influenced by his research. I encourage anyone interested in the topic to attend. Also, if you want to learn more about the Sport Management program at KSU, this would be a good opportunity to meet some of our faculty and majors.

You can find more information here. If you have any questions about the event, please feel free to contact me.

Speaker: Dr. Brad R. Humphreys
Topic: “What Do Economists Know About the Economic Impact of Sports Facilities?”
Location: Kennesaw State University, Convocation Center, Room 2016
Time: 7-8pm (with reception to follow)
Anticipated Economic Impact to the Community: $0

More on A-Rod’s “Power Surge” in Texas

Yesterday, I was watching ESPN in the wake of Alex Rodriguez’s press conference when some numbers flashed on the screen. It listed at Alex Rodriguez’s isolated power (SLG-AVG) in Texas and New York, showing a much larger number with the former, during the time that he admitted to using steroids. Though it was not explicitly stated, I guess viewers were supposed to infer that this was evidence of A-Rod’s steroid use; or, at least, I can see how someone might interpret these numbers as such.

I previously addressed A-Rod’s power surge in Texas using his home-run rate, and I found the gain was about one home run per season, which is too small to indicate a meaningful change. As I stated in my previous analysis, two problems with using Rodriguez’s raw numbers are that they don’t account for park effects and aging. But, homers are not the only measure of power.

When we go beyond home runs, the analysis changes slightly. The nice thing about aging and home-run rates is that they peak at around age 30, while doubles and triples peak at around age 28. This means that when we compare A-Rod’s extra-base performance in New York to Texas, we are going to expect a decline in doubles and triples from natural aging as well as from moving to a tougher park. In terms of home runs, A-Rod was still on the upswing when he left Texas.

The table below lists A-Rod’s career performance neutralized for park and era effects—these are not his actual numbers, which are polluted by ballpark and era effects—as well as a correction for natural aging. The “Aging (v. Peak)” column reports the percent difference from his projected peak doubles-plus-triples rate (DPT/AB). The aging estimates come from my forthcoming paper on aging in baseball. I base the aging progression towards his peak using the mean of his age 23 and 24 performances to project his peak DPT/AB performance of 5.94% at age 28. This baseline appears to overestimate his future DPT/AB a bit, but all I can do is make an estimate. The DPT/AB projection has the greatest variance fluctuations among the metrics I used to estimate the aging functions of hitters; thus, it’s not surprising to see them fluctuate as they do. However, what the numbers indicate is that his non-homer extra-base hits don’t appear to be vastly different that we would expect given the changes in park and aging, because even if I lowered his expected DPT/AB it would not show a spike during the Texas years.

Year	Age	Neutral	Aging	Pred.	Neutral Pred.	Neutral -
		DPT/AB	(v.Peak)DPT/AB	DPT	DPT	Pred,
1994	18	0.00%	-34.15%	3.91%			
1995	19	5.10%	-27.81%	4.29%			
1996	20	8.70%	-22.12%	4.63%			
1997	21	7.19%	-17.08%	4.93%			
1998	22	5.83%	-12.69%	5.19%			
1999	23	4.67%	-8.95%	5.41%			
2000	24	6.51%	-5.86%	5.59%			
2001	25	5.41%	-3.42%	5.74%	34	36.03	-2.03
2002	26	4.54%	-1.63%	5.84%	28	36.05	-8.05
2003	27	5.85%	-0.49%	5.91%	35	35.35	-0.35
2004	28	4.32%	0.00%	5.94%	Gain 	01-03	-10.43
2005	29	5.19%	-0.16%	5.93%	Gain 	01-02	-10.08
2006	30	4.59%	-0.97%	5.88%			
2007	31	5.45%	-2.43%	5.80%			
2008	32	6.45%	-4.53%	5.67%			

One thing to note is that a decrease in doubles and triples could mean an increase in power as a result of those extra-base hits becoming home runs. However, there doesn’t appear to be much of a spike in home runs.

The usual caveats apply to this kind of analysis. What if he’s lying? Well, that would change things, but all I can do is test out his story. What about his admitted use of Ripped Fuel (contained the stimulant ephedra, and was legal) before going to Texas? Again, there is not much I can do here. My aging estimates are based on the past when amphetamine use was widespread, so the aging function may not be steep enough to capture his expected decline, and we can just acknowledge that. What if I used a different time to estimate projected peak age? Yes, that could have an effect, it could go down or up.

The point here is that there is not much to see in these numbers. The so-called “power surge” that we saw in Texas wasn’t all that extraordinary given the park change and aging. And before anyone freaks out, please know that I believe anabolic steroids improve athletic performance, and they ought to help baseball players hit, pitch, run, etc. That there doesn’t appear to be an obvious boost in one player’s numbers doesn’t mean all that much in the grand scheme of things. But, I think it would be a worse sin to look at A-Rod’s numbers and suggest there was a significant power boost from steroids.

File Under Markets Will Find a Way

The draft-pick compensation required to sign Juan Cruz is hindering his signing with another team. Any team that signs Cruz, who is a Type-A free agent, would have to forfeit a top draft pick to the Diamondbacks. It appears that price is too steep for any interested team, which means that Cruz won’t get paid and the Diamondbacks won’t get any picks. I see some gains from trade here. The solution: sign Cruz to a below-market contract, then trade him to another team.

General manager Josh Byrnes said on Monday that it is possible that the right-handed reliever could agree to financial terms on a deal with another team. The D-backs would then sign him to a contract at that price and deal him to the other team in exchange for a player or players.

I can’t say too much,” Byrnes said. “But of late, they’ve talked to the union, we have talked to the Commissioner’s Office to see if there is a way where they could sign through us and then we would receive in trade what we would deem as enough value.”

Cruz, who made a little more than $1.9 million last year, is a Type A free agent. That means that the team that signs him would have to give the D-backs its No. 1 Draft pick — unless that pick falls in the top 16, in which case that team would give up its second-round pick. In addition, the D-backs would get a pick in the compensation round between the first and second rounds.

There is a feeling that teams have been reluctant to sign Cruz because they do not want to give up their Draft pick. The scenario that Byrnes laid out would be a way around that.

It’s moves like these that make me like Josh Byrnes.

The Elias rankings that determine free agent class are embarrassing. Though it’s not the entire problem, it’s not helping here. I’m a Cruz fan, but to classify him as a Type-A free agent is ridiculous. In the next CBA, I expect this will be addressed, possibly through eliminating draft-pick compensation altogether.

Two Topics I Like to Write About

Cal Warlick continues his excellent cartoon work in the AJC.


Warlick Cartoon

Wow, the Gwinnett stadium and steroids. How could I not link to this? ;-)