Super-Priced Super Bust

Two recent articles in the Arizona Republic ponder

An inside look at how Arizona won the right to host Super Bowl

and

How big is the Super Bowl payoff?

The answer to the first seems to be (if you read the article) a lot of fancy footwork by the Super Bowl host committee. I think a deeper answer includes the million-or-so in Scottsdale taxpayer-funded subsidies our Mayor Jim Lane and the city council awarded to the committee to “encourage game attendees to stay in Scottsdale hotels” (which obviously are desperate for business in February when the rest of the country is freezing), and for a big party downtown (because folks wouldn’t otherwise come to Scottsdale to party).

Subsidy #1 was reported in these pages in February of this year as $650,000.

Subsidy #2 will take the form of $400,000 in overtime pay for public safety employees, as reported on AZCentral in April.

That’s over a million dollars. What do Scottsdale taxpayers get for that? Besides a football-crazed downtown most of us will avoid like a Scottsdale ice cream truck?

If you read the second AZR article, the answer seems to be, “Not much.”

Not surprising, since the so-called economics of super-event subsidies has been widely discredited. Just look at a few of my previous articles on ScottsdaleTrails.

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5 Comments

  1. John,

    I get that hard dollar wise, there is little to no return. You have done a good job of pointing that out.

    However, Scottsdale is in competition with many other cities for the tourest dollar. New businesses. New homeowners. The publicity and attention drawn to Scottsdale from events like the Super Bowl, Phx Open etc does have a value. I have no idea what value is. Could be $30K….could be $1M.

    The Scottsdale tax payers may not get much out of this, but I suggest the Scottsdale citizens seem to really enjoy these events being held here. There is also a value in that. See John, I am a Scottsdale citizen and have a voice just as you do. I have no issues with the city spending money to promote those events. I am guessing that if a vote was taken, more than 50% of the citizens feel as I do.

    I appreciate your passion and concern. Your heart is in the right place. Not everything is about dollars and cents. There is value in things that finacially may not make sense.

    1. “However, Scottsdale is in competition with many other cities for the tourest dollar.”

      I would have said–at worst–that other cities are in competition with Scottsdale; and more realistically that other cities aspire to have the tourist draw that Scottsdale has, and are trying to recreate it for themselves.

      “I have no idea what value is.”

      You and a lot of other people, including the so-called economic development professionals who work for the city. That’s the problem with this whole field of political economics: If you say it has value, and even if you make up some numbers to support that assertion, you can rationalize just about anything you want.
      ch
      Just like with the intra-city sales tax ‘incentive’ wars over shopping mall development and car dealer relocation a few years ago which eroded the tax base for ALL involved municipalities, we owe it to the taxpayers–to OURSELVES–to really understand whether it is even the job of government to meddle in the free market in this manner. That’s a huge reason behind the ‘gift clause’ in the Arizona State Constitution and the ‘anti-subsidy clause’ in the Scottsdale City Charter, which theoretically should eliminate a lot of the rationalization.

      “The Scottsdale tax payers may not get much out of this, but I suggest the Scottsdale citizens seem to really enjoy these events being held here. There is also a value in that.”

      The percentage of Scottsdale taxpayers who “really enjoy these events being held here” is probably in the single digits. Look at the number of attendees at the events who are from Scottsdale.

      “I have no issues with the city spending money to promote those events.”

      That’s because you don’t see the fact that every dollar spent on these things could have gone to improving public safety, public services, and infrastructure, which are the true missions of government…as opposed to subsidizing entertainment experiences for a small percentage of its citizens. In the words of Dwight Eisenhower:

      Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

      “I am guessing that if a vote was taken, more than 50% of the citizens feel as I do.”

      I’ll bet you $1000 that if an up-or-down direct election was undertaken on spending $1,000,000 of Scottsdale taxpayer money to subsidize the Super Bowl, it would fail miserably. It’s a safe bet, because such an election will never happen. Mayor Lane and the city council majority wouldn’t call for such a vote in a million years. They know it would never pass. It’s your idea, call Lane and ask him to put it on the agenda. They won’t even do that…they won’t even DISCUSS it.

      “I appreciate your passion and concern. Your heart is in the right place. Not everything is about dollars and cents. There is value in things that finacially may not make sense.”

      So we should do no financial analysis at all, and just give away the money? If that’s the case, why not give the money to NASCAR or the NBA? How about the Red Bull air races or Formula 1 (a couple of things I might enjoy)? And then, who gets to decide which professional sports get subsidies?

      That’s another big reason for the Gift Clause: Government shouldn’t be in the business of picking winners and losers.

      If we focus our expenditures on the fundamental factors of quality of life for our residents and taxpayers, the other stuff will come of it’s own accord.

  2. This is the Super Bowl. Why give anyone anything? Think about it. The people are coming here for the blasted game. They have to shop and sleep somewhere. So make the city desirable, right? Then put the money into the CITY you morons!

    There is an article in today’s cat litter box liner (the Arizona Republic) that states the roads are falling apart down where they are going to hold the damn party! So what would have been a better use of the cash? FIX THE DAMN ROADS! Does that logic confuse the people in charge? Super Bowl remember? Make the place look nice, don’t have crummy roads. Simple fix.

    Task force, that is a funny one drstrangledale. That sounds like something the city loves, let us spend money on something that is obvious. But do they ever read the blasted things? Hell no! Sometimes I think someone needs to get the archival commercials that promoted Reading Is Fundamental. Yes RIF. Then play that for them everyday. Maybe they will get the message.

    It seems our city government needs to RIF more often. They can’t read the city charter, the general plan, anything beyond the funds that greases their palms. This is the Super Bowl. Why did we spend any funds to get them down here? Well now we get to see how much money we are going to spend for the 2017 NCAA foolishness now.

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