Archive for Gwinnett Braves

Quick Thoughts

Hanley Ramirez‘s Plus/Minus for the past four seasons: -6, -37, +3, +4.

— Gwinnett Braves next to last in International League attendance, drawing less than their projected annual attendance of over 6,000. Not good when you are experiencing the honeymoon effect of a new park and team. Nice work!

— G-Braves Stadium’s naming rights revert from the County to the Braves on Monday. Braves get first $350K, County gets next $350K, both parties split the remainder. So much for getting $500K to pay off the debt. Lando Calrissian had a better deal with Darth Vader. If I was fabulously wealthy, I would buy the rights and name it Nasuti’s Folly. I encourage use of this name informally.

— Frank Wren deserves much praise for rebuilding the Braves. But, I wonder where the Braves would be if Matt Diaz had been the team’s everyday right fielder from day one and if they hadn’t rushed Jordan Schafer. I estimate that if Diaz and Jeff Francoeur switched their playing time, the Braves would have gained approximately $2 million/year in superior performance.

AJC Op-Ed on Stadium “Stimulus”

Today, the AJC published an Op-Ed by yours truly on the potential economic development benefits of the new Gwinnett Stadium. Here is a snippet.

Braves 1, taxpayers 0
Economic benefits overstated for publicly funded Gwinnett stadium

By J.C. Bradbury

For the Journal-Constitution

Saturday, April 25, 2009

On April 17, the Gwinnett Braves began play at their new home in Gwinnett County. The publicly funded stadium was initially slated to cost $45 million, but the price quickly ballooned to $64 million, with no word yet on what the final construction tab will be. In addition, the county has been unable to sell naming rights to the stadium, which the county anticipated returning $500,000 annually to cover 20 percent of the debt service.

Despite recent county government budget cuts, layoffs and tax hikes, the commissioners have insisted that the stadium will increase economic activity more than enough to offset construction costs. However, economists have long known that the frequently touted economic benefits of sports facilities are pure fantasy.

For further details see this post.

Unbiased Stadium Coverage from Gwinnett Daily Post

How to run an effective PR campaign. Step 1: get the incentives right.

GDP Day

Vacation Update: Aging, UFL, and Gwinnett Stadium

As I mentioned, my blogging vacation doesn’t preclude occasional updates.

— My article on aging in baseball is now available from Journal of Sports Sciences. Here is the abstract.

Peak athletic performance and ageing: Evidence from baseball

Baseball players exhibit a pattern of improvement and decline in performance; however, differing lengths of careers and changes in rules and characteristics of the game complicate assessments of age-related effects on performance. This study attempts to isolate the impact of age on several player skills while controlling for relevant outside factors using longitudinal data from 86 seasons of Major League Baseball. The results indicate that players age in different skills in accord with studies of ageing in other athletic contests. For overall performance, multiple-regression estimates indicate that hitters and pitchers peak around the age of 29 – later than previous estimates. Athletic skills such as hitting and running peak earlier than skills that rely heavily on experience and knowledge, such as issuing and drawing walks.

— You can read why I think the United Football League (UFL) is more likely to succeed than many people believe in the April 09, 2009 issue of ESPN Magazine.

— I am quoted as a Gwinnett Stadium critic in the April 2009 issue of Atlanta Magazine. Commissioner Bert Nasuti thinks what the Board of Commissioners did—revealing its secret deal to the public a few days before approving it without opening the floor for discussion—was consistent with good representative democracy. I disagree.

— I offer my sincere thanks to the US Military Academy at West Point for hosting my visit to the school last week. It is an impressive place to visit, and I very much enjoyed my time there.

Why Bother?

AJC

With opening day at its new minor-league ballpark a month away, Gwinnett County officials are still scrambling to make sure fans who attend Sunday games can have a beer with their hot dog.

The County Commission voted unanimously Tuesday on two measures designed to help make that happen at the new home of the Gwinnett Braves. The first is a request to the state Department of Community Affairs to approve the stadium, an adjacent mixed-use development and the county’s convention center and arena in Duluth for certification under an economic development program that allows Sunday sales for qualified projects.

The other strategy is an amendment to the county’s alcohol sales law that would allow Sunday sales so long as at least half of the stadium’s food and beverage sales come from food. County and state rules already allow Sunday sales at restaurants and similar establishments that are primarily in the business of selling food — not booze.

Why are County officials so concerned about this? What percentage of the concessions revenue go to the County from Sunday alcohol sales? 0%—the County gave away all concessions revenue rights to the Braves in the stadium lease. So, the County is going out of its way to make sure Liberty Media gets even more money.

It has to make one wonder: whom do the County Commissioners work for?

F, Flunk, Failure

GDP

The new stadium in Gwinnett County where the Gwinnett Braves will open their inaugural season next month has won a Best in Atlanta Real Estate Award from the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

The Atlanta Business Chronicle cited “potential economic stimulus” as the primary reason for giving this project its top award.

Wow, just…wow! “Potential economic stimulus”…un-be-fucking-lievable. I wish the judges would read their own publication, where I had this to say less than two months ago.

“The general belief among economists is that there is no economic impact of these publicly financed stadiums,” Bradbury said. “We keep seeing that this will generate $15 million and that is a completely made up number. They are clearly going to have to raise taxes. They are not going to make their first bond payment [without the help of taxes] ; and it is not going to get any easier. ”

“This is a great deal for the Braves and the Gwinnett commissioners should be embarrassed,” Bradbury added. “I think if you called every economist in the state of Georgia at academic institutions, you would find it hard to find a single one that would say this is going to have economic benefits.”

But hey, don’t take my word for it: pick up the phone and call some economists from any of Georgia’s many fine universities. It is extremely frustrating to see members of the media reporting analysis that would earn an F in any introductory economics course. The awards panel should be embarrassed.

UPDATE: I submitted the following letter to the editor of the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

Dear Editor,

I was disappointed to see the Atlanta Business Chronicle reward the new Gwinnett Braves stadium with a Best in Atlanta Real Estate Award. The article detailing the project highlighted the “potential economic stimulus” of the project as the reason for its selection. The problem is, the claims of economic benefits of sports stadiums are as mythical as the North Georgia Sasquatch.

I stated as much in the January 12, 2009 issue of Atlanta Business Chronicle.

“The general belief among economists is that there is no economic impact of these publicly financed stadiums,” Bradbury said. “We keep seeing that this will generate $15 million and that is a completely made up number. They are clearly going to have to raise taxes…. “This is a great deal for the Braves and the Gwinnett commissioners should be embarrassed,” Bradbury added. “I think if you called every economist in the state of Georgia at academic institutions, you would find it hard to find a single one that would say this is going to have economic benefits.”

I also detailed significant problems with the finance plan in a February 2, 2008 Op-Ed in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The Atlanta Business Chronicle should be educating the public about economic truths instead of perpetuating fallacies.

Sincerely,

J.C. Bradbury

Watchdog Group Files Ethics Complaint Regarding Gwinnett Stadium

GDP

“What bothers me and bothers several citizens of Gwinnett County … is they have had no say,” in the $5 million land purchase, $33 million bond package for construction and the $19 million in upgrades. “(Commissioners) have left the public on the sidelines.”

Anderson said the deal, negotiated by then Gwinnett Convention and Visitors Bureau Board Chairman Richard Tucker and his son Lee Tucker, the bureau’s attorney, and included land purchased from brothers Bartow and Brand Morgan, who own a community bank, is a sign of a “good ol’ boy clique.”

As a Floyd County native, Anderson offered as a contrast the sales tax referendum officials held to decide if the Braves Single-A team moved to Rome, which allowed the stadium to be paid off before the first pitch was thrown.

In his complaint, which could be considered by the grand jury over the next six months, Anderson also brought up ties between Commissioner Kevin Kenerly and developer D.G. Jenkins which first surfaced before Kenerly’s re-election in 2006. He also questioned the involvement of the Gwinnett Place and Gwinnett Village community improvement districts in last year’s referendum over tax allocation districts.

Television coverage from WSBTV.

Gwinnett Tax Increases Pass

AJC

Gwinnett County passed a $1.7 billion budget Tuesday that may, for the first time in more than a decade, raise the mill levy on property….

County officials cut $40 million from the original budget proposed in December, and 108 jobs have been eliminated since then. Officials estimate they will need $62 million in additional revenues — additional fees or property taxes — to fund the budget and its future public safety programs.

GDP

While an increase in property taxes has not been determined, the budget calls for $62 million in additional revenues. Deputy County Administrator Mike Comer said officials estimate the taxes could increase $12 to $13 a month on a home valued at $200,000….

County Administrator Jock Connell said officials have foreseen the need for a tax increase for years.

“We have lived off growth for a number of years. There are some good things with that and there are some bad things when growth stops,” he said. “What we’ve attempted to do here was balance service needs with revenues with cuts. …

“(This budget) gives us a platform and a foundation that we can continue to steer this ship through rough waters. But this is not the end of our decisions.”

Really? I don’t remember hearing any news of the shortfall when he introduced the Braves stadium. Gosh, if only the County could find another $64 million. Where could we find that? I wonder if the new budget includes a raise for Connell, who earns $234,000 per year with perks.

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

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