September 5, 2013 at 4:27 PM
Potential arena in Sodo
Do the math
The city of Seattle has been corrupted in such a way that it has allowed hedge-fund guy Chris Hansen to pay for an economic-impact evaluation of his arena proposal, thereby assuring the sort of objective research expected of paid advocates like lawyers or public relations people. [“Editorial: Make Hansen fund arena vote in Seattle,” Opinion, Aug. 20.]
Owners of professional-sports franchises claim the economic impact of a professional-sports team is equal to the sum of all the money spent by a fan of that team; not only tickets, but T-shirts and ball caps and refreshments, both at the game and before and after the game.
That seems like a lot of money, until you realize that it’s mostly money being spent in different places within the same local economy and to accurately calculate the contribution of a professional-sports team to a local economy it is necessary to calculate the losses of other businesses in the same economy.
You’re not adding anything to Seattle’s economy by having people drinking in a bar in Lower Queen Anne when they would otherwise be drinking in Ballard or Capitol Hill, you’re merely shifting the places where money is spent.
I hope that Seattle will insist on a traffic study as part of economic- and environmental-impact reports. Such research could use traffic-flow simulators, which could be used to estimate the effects of adding thousands vehicles to and from a new arena. Calculate how much time people would spend in traffic, turning fossil fuels into pollution, each time there would be a game.
I’d bet that when you consider the costs in other people’s time and environmental costs, the economic costs of an arena in Sodo would be greater than the supposed benefits of Chris Hansen’s proposal.
Tony Formo, Seattle
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