Friday, May 14, 2010

Upon Further Review, Benefits of NJ Super Bowl May be Over-Stated

By Richard A. Lee

With great fanfare earlier this week, the New Meadowlands Stadium submitted a bid to the NFL to host Super Bowl XLVIII in 2014.

“Hosting the Super Bowl in the New York/New Jersey area will not only place the game of football on the largest stage it’s ever seen, but the positive economic impact for the region will be substantial,” Woody Johnson, Chairman and CEO of the New York Jets, said after the bid was submitted on Wednesday. “Studies have shown that the economic benefit would exceed $550 million, providing a major boost to this area on many levels.”

Johnson’s comments about the economic benefits of the big game were echoed by other leading figures from the world of sports, as well as state lawmakers promoting New Jersey’s efforts to host the contest. In addition, most news accounts of the bid submission reported that the host committee is projecting that a local Super Bowl will generate $550 million for the region. Likewise, a Senate resolution supporting the proposal promises that “the economic benefits of a Super Bowl in this state would be substantial, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity.”

But you may not want to count that money too soon.

Several research studies conducted by economic experts show that the economic benefits predicted by proponents of hosting a major sporting event such as the Super Bowl are far from accurate.

“While sports boosters routinely claim large benefits from hosting mega-events, the overwhelming majority of independent academic studies of these events have shown that their economic impact appears to be limited,” Victor A. Matheson, an associate professor at the College of the Holy Cross wrote in a paper titled Mega-Events: The effect of the world’s biggest sporting events on local, regional, and national economies.

“While the gross impact of these huge games and tournaments is undoubted large, attracting tens or hundreds of thousands of live spectators as well as television audiences that can reach the billions, the net impact of mega-events on real economic variables such as taxable sales, employment, personal income, and per capita personal income in host cities is negligible,” Matheson said.

Philip K. Porter, a professor at the University of South Florida, examined six Super Bowls that took place between 1979 and 1996 and saw little evidence that the games generated additional consumer spending.

“The results are shocking,” Porter wrote in “Mega-Sports Events as Municipal Investments: A Critique of Impact Analysis,” a chapter in The Economics of Sport. “For each of the six events studied in three different locations, there is no measurable impact on spending associated with the event. The projected spending and spillover benefits of regional impact models never materialize.”

In an article published in The Sport Journal, Matheson identified several reasons for the discrepancies between predicted economic benefits and actual dollar figures.

For starters, the higher numbers usually are provided by groups or individuals in support of hosting a major sporting event, so the objectivity of the projections is questionable. In addition, many of the hotels, restaurants and car rental agencies patronized by Super Bowl attendees are national chains, so the revenue they generate does not stay in the local economy.

The predictions also ignore what is known as the substitution effect. According to Matheson, “To the extent that attendees at a sporting event spend their money on that event instead of on other activities in the local economy, the sporting event simply results in reallocation of expenditures in the economy, rather than in real net increases in economic activity.”

Similarly, the economic experts argue that projections of additional revenue from hotels and restaurants in Super Bowl host cities fail to take into account the fact that these businesses often operate at near or full capacity anyway because most host cities are popular tourist attractions.

Lastly, hosting a Super Bowl requires additional expenses for the host community for traffic control, public safety, sanitation and other services.

Of course, the New York/New Jersey area is a unique market. In this case, the $550 million economic benefit being projected by the host committee could be more acurarate than predictions for previous Super Bowls.

But a study conducted by Dennis Coates and Brad Humphreys at the University of Maryland suggests that there could be another way to generate revenue from a Super Bowl. Although the authors found that hosting a Super Bowl has “no measurable impact on real per capita income in the host city,” they did observe an economic benefit in the home city of the Super Bowl winner. Their research, published in the Journal of Sports Economics, suggests that “winning the Super Bowl increases real per capita income in the home city of the National Football League champion by about $140.”

So if New Jersey is hoping to capitalize on the Super Bowl, the state may want to reconsider its efforts to convince the NFL to play the game here. Instead of playing host; New Jersey may be better off investing in personnel for the Jets and Giants to help one of the teams that call Meadowlands home to actually win an NFL championship.

# # #

Richard A. Lee is Communications Director of the Hall Institute of Public Policy – New Jersey. A former journalist and Deputy Communications Director for the Governor, he also teaches courses in media and government at Rutgers University, where he is completing work on a Ph.D. in media studies.

Video: Bangkok War Zone: Video of violent clashes as Thai police fire at Red Shirts

Free Agent Watch: So…is LeBron James now in play?

By Matt McHale
Last night, LeBron James suffered one of the most stunning playoff eliminations in NBA postseason history. The best team in the league — starring the best player on the planet — didn’t make it out of the second round…didn’t even make it to a seventh game. LeBron’s future in Cleveland has never looked more bleak.

All season, I have been steadfast in my belief that LeBron won’t come to Chicago. That, in fact, he would never want to. As much as James admires Michael Jordan, I can’t imagine him coming to the Windy City and playing in MJ’s giant shadow. I mean, LeBron could still conceivably eclipse Jordan’s accomplishments somewhere else, but he would have to win at least six or seven titles with the Bulls to measure up to Mike’s legacy. I don’t see that happening.

And yet…ESPN’s Chad Ford has heard differently:

“Within minutes of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ elimination at the hands of the Celtics, the speculation about LeBron James’ next destination resumed in full force. In the space of five minutes I heard from three NBA GMs via text, e-mail and phone. All three said that based on the information they have, they believe LeBron will leave the Cavs. More surprisingly, all of them said they believe the destination will be the Chicago Bulls. Two said they believe that John Calipari will be the Bulls’ new head coach.”

Ford then received the following information from one GM over the phone: “I think the Bulls are really going to go for it. Look for them to offer the Cavs Luol Deng in a sign-and-trade for LeBron. That will allow them to retain most of their cap space. Then they’ll go after Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh as well.”

Talk about dream scenarios. That would be like winning the lottery on the same day you inherited a gold mine that was sitting on top of a gold mine that had a huge oil reserve underneath it. Can you imagine a lineup that included LeBron, Wade, Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah? Seriously, I just got chills.

But as fun as it is to dream, there are other teams — the Cavaliers, Clippers, Heat and Knicks just to name a few — that all have just as good a shot at James as the Bulls do. And July is still a month and a half away. Literally anything could happen.

Still, when I woke up yesterday, I would have rated Chicago’s chances of landing Lebron at about zero percent. Now? I think there’s a chance.

Is 70,000 barrels a day a possibility for the oil spill?

Posted by Gail the Actuary

NPR is now reporting that the oil spill could be 70,000 barrels of oil a day, which is considerably greater than the estimate of 5,000 barrels per day currently being reported. What is the view of Oil Drum readers regarding the likelihood of the higher estimate being accurate? According to the story:

The analysis was conducted by Steve Werely, an associate professor at Purdue University, using a technique called particle image velocimetry. Harris tells Michele Norris that the method is accurate to a degree of plus or minus 20 percent. That means the flow could range between 56,000 barrels a day and 84,000 barrels a day.

Another analysis by Eugene Chiang, a professor of astrophysics at the University of California, Berkeley, calculated the rate of flow to be between 20,000 barrels a day and 100,000 barrels a day.

We also know that the oil tends to mix with water to produce a "chocolate mousse" mixture. The controlled flow rates of wells drilled by BP's at its Thunder Horse platform (another deep water platform) seemed to produce oil of 40,000 to 50,000 barrels a day, when the wells were in maximum production based on the graphs below from this post:

Thunder Horse Main - Oil Production by Well, in Thousand Barrels per Day, based on data of Minerals Management Services

Thunder Horse North - Oil Production by Well, in Thousand Barrels per Day, based on data of Minerals Management Services

Natural gas production is in addition to the oil production shown on these graphs, bringing the barrel of oil equivalents up somewhat (10% - 15%) from this level. This Deepwater Horizon well is different, so this may not have particular relevance.

What are readers views on the likelihood of higher oil spill estimate being correct?

NYC's Blacks and Latinos Frisked 9x More Often Than Whites

by Te-Ping Chen
The New York Police Department thinks that blacks and Latinos are unusually "furtive" in their movements. Or that, anyway, is the reason NYPD police officers put forward to explain why the city's police stop and search minorities so often — in fact, fully nine times more frequently than whites in New York, according to the latest data.

After initiating any "stop and frisk" (basic anatomy: cops ask you for ID, turn you around and place you against a car, or up against a wall, tell you to spread your legs, rummage through your clothes in search of contraband), police have to explain why they decided to stop someone. Only 15% of the time is it because someone "fits a relevant description" of a suspect. Usually, it's because someone was making "furtive movements" — i.e., "that guy/woman looked sketchy to me."

Decades ago, the Supreme Court ruled in Terry v. Ohio that police could briefly detain someone on the street, so long as they had "reasonable suspicion" about their activities. Unfortunately, the cops' intuition on who looks suspicious happens to accord overwhelmingly with race. Though in 2009, police stopped and searched nearly 490,000 blacks and Latinos on the street in New York — compared to just 53,000 whites — arrest rates for the two groups, once stopped, were virtually the same, and in fact a bit higher among whites. For example, about 1.7% of whites who were frisked turned out to be carrying weapons, while among blacks who were stopped, that figure was 1.1%.

It's these kinds of biases that lie behind the fact that in New York City, fully 87% of people arrested on marijuana charges are black or Latino — even though both groups have similar marijuana use as whites (but then again, you won't see many cops frisking white youth on the Upper East Side).

The city has responded to these figures by arguing that because more police are sent to higher-crime areas, there's more suspicious activity around, and officers naturally end up stopping more people as a result. The department also says that the tactic has forced criminals to keep their guns shelved at home, while helping the city build a police database of thousands of names that detectives can use in the future when fighting crime. (Of course, this doesn't answer why New York thinks it will be helpful to compile — as NYCLU Associate Legal Director Christopher Dunn puts it — a "massive database of black and brown New Yorkers," when many of them have never been arrested or committed a crime.)

Neither does it get at the question of why police feel so much more inclined to use force when they're stopping blacks and Latinos, as opposed to whites. Though police used force in 19% of stops involving whites, when detaining blacks and Latinos, fully 26% of the time, officers decided to draw their weapons or throw someone onto the ground.

The Magic Number in Teacher Evaluations

By Stephen Sawchuk

In what is probably the most aggressive Race-to-the-Top-inspired evaluation and tenure-reform bill to pass so far, Colorado's bill passed with most of the core details intact. It includes a requirement that teachers be deemed "effective" three years running to earn tenure and a provision that would cause teachers to revert to probationary status if they have two successive "ineffective" ratings. (An appeals process will be granted to such teachers.)

New York officials, in the meantime, have struck an agreement that would base 40 percent of the evaluation on student achievement. It also specifies that state standardized-test scores won't be more than than 20 percent of the evaluation with local measures forming the other 20 percent. The state legislature still must approve it.

The New York example is significant for another reason, though. Maybe I'm making a mountain out of a molehill, but it's the only one I know of so far that's mandated a student-achievement weight of less than 50 percent. That figure is so ubiquitous out there—Delaware, Tennessee, D.C., Florida, Indiana all have it or have proposed it—that a lot of people think it's part of the Race to the Top guidelines. (It isn't.)

Department of Education officials claimed there was no "magic number" to succeed in the teacher section of the Race to the Top application, but somehow all these lawmakers have fixed on one regardless.

There is not a whole lot of precedent for 50 percent. Some of the most famous extant evaluation/pay models, such as the Teacher Advancement Program, typically base only a quarter to a third of evaluations or pay on student achievement.

I can think of only one state so far that's left the student-achievement figure up to locals: Illinois. Even that law, though, has a trigger that would let the state board decide the figure for laggard districts. Want to bet what it will end up being?

President Obama Has Hot Lunch At Duff's Famous Wings In Upstate New York

A saucy wing ding...and some science geek fun...
Almost as soon as he landed in upstate New York at about 1:30 today, President Obama made a pit stop at local landmark eatery Duff's Famous Wings, in Cheektowaga. The pooler on duty, ever aware of the influence at home, noted "Dozens of onlookers are waiting and watching outside, no doubt eager to learn what he's eating and how it squares with the First Lady's obesity initiative." One onlooker wasn't at all interested in national health policy: Luann Haley, 45, told President Obama "You're a hottie with a smokin' little body."
The President, laughing, gave Haley a big hug. It's a long way from kissing babies up there in New York, wink wink wink. But there was some of that, too.

"He gave me a squeeze!" Haley said, and the President advised her that Mrs. Obama would be watching it all on TV.

"That's all right,'' Haley said, and turned to the cameras. "Hi Michelle, eat your heart out."

The President strode to the counter to speak with the receptionist, Mary DiGiacomo, who told him Duff's had a lunch special but he demurred, and quietly placed a different order. She tried to tell him it would be on the house.

“No, I’ve got to pay,’’ President Obama insisted, pulling out his wallet, which sported a $5 bill on top.

Pool, who is Sheryl Gay Stolberg of NY Times, asked the President what he got.

“Wings!’’ the President declared. “This is the wing capital!”

A painted sign on the restaurant wall says: Duff’s Famous Wings. Medium is HOT. Medium hot IS VERY HOT. Hot IS VERY VERY HOT.

President Obama ordered his wings medium, but was told halfway through his meet-and-greet with what turned out to be about 100 guests and customers that he needed to get them extra spicy. So he called out to the restaurant staff that he would have five regular, five extra spicy. They cost $10.82. Pool didn't see him pay.

Info: Duff's Famous Wings is at 550 Dick Rd Depew, NY 14043. Phone: 716-683-3090.

By Obama Foodorama

Video of New Jersey Governor Christie Puting the Media in Their Place

Matt Rooney of The Save New Jersey Blog apparently enjoyed watching what I believe to be a liberal reporter being put in his place by Republican Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie.

Now Governor Christie is demonstrating how to deal with a contentious media, but be warned it takes a special kind of person with the right political skills. So someone like John McCain doesn’t have the personality nor the skills to pull this off.

With the way he is cutting the state budget and dealing with the media, Governor Christie looks like a potential presidential candidate in 2012.

Robin Hood : Movie Review

Movie Review, Story Description and Exclusive Trailer of Robin Hood.

Russell Crowe has buffed up and leaned down for his foray into Nottingham.

He’s looking good, and he's back doing what Russ does so well, wielding a sword or two and bellowing inspirationally at his loyal soldiers at arms.

“Gladiator-in-Tights” anyone? This is certainly reminiscent of those heady days of Maximus Decimus Meridius, and no doubting Sir Ridley is keen to tap into that same passionate market.

Gladiator aside, perhaps the best way to view this new Robin Hood is as a prequel to the original story we know well. This is the rise, through the rose and fake blood-tinted lens of Hollywood, of Robin of Sherwood, before he was outlawed, and still serving his king.

Cate Blanchett dons Maid Marion’s robes, and there's more class on screen in the form of William Hurt and also Mark Strong, the new go-to guy for the role of Very Bad Man.

The story begins with our Robin Longstride fighting alongside King Richard in the crusades, until his fortunes dictate he must return to his homeland of England with a newly-found posse of Merry Men. Home isn’t what it used to be, taxes are gathered in a rather more vigorous manner than we get with the IRD, and Robin finds himself at war with all sorts of folk. Of course, feisty Marion has her part to play in his affections.

This is a far more earnest and serious Robin Hood, which in essence isn’t a bad thing. But disappointingly, while I don’t consider myself a bloodthirsty cinemagoer, watching a bloody battle unfold with nary a drop spilled lacks a certain credibility. A box office price worth paying for the “M” rating perhaps, but awards favourites Braveheart and Gladiator managed just fine on that front.

All up, it might pay to bear in mind my weakness for the "Unleash hell" of the aforementioned Gladiator, and please don’t behead me, but I even loved the hugely entertaining kitsch of the Costner/Freeman/Rickman Prince of Thieves. So no surprise that I found plenty to like with our new Robin Hood. I loved Crowe and Blanchett together, and while I don't see this Robin being nearly as enduring as his predecessors, it was still a good three and a half star watch.

Times Square probe: three arrested in raids

3 Pakistanis arrested in Times Square bomb plot related raids.

Federal investigators conducted raids on Thursday in three north-eastern states in connection with the probe into the botched car bombing of Times Square in New York.

Federal prosecutors and the Federal Bureau of Investigation confirmed that search warrants were exercised in New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts in pursuit of leads in the case arising from the attempt to explode a vehicle earlier this month in New York City’s landmark shopping and entertainment centre.

“We can confirm that search warrants have been executed in several locations in the north—east in connection with the investigation into the attempted Times Square bombing,” authorities said in a joint statement.

Three people found during the raids were arrested on suspicion of immigration status violations, the FBI said.

The raids were conducted based on evidence arising from the Times Square probe but “do not relate to any known immediate threat to the public or active plot against the United States,” the statement said.

Searches took place in the Boston area and in Watertown and Brookline, Massachusetts, and on New York’s Long Island, as well as in New Jersey.

A car packed with fuel, fireworks and other flammable substances was left on May 1 in Times Square but did not detonate. It was discovered by police after witnesses noticed smoke emitting from the sport—utility vehicle.

A naturalised US citizen from Pakistan, Faisal Shahzad, was arrested two days later awaiting takeoff on an airliner leaving the country. He has been charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction in the Times Square incident, and has reportedly been cooperating with law enforcement.

Shahzad has apparently admitted his role in planting the would—be car bomb in Times Square and described having received bomb—making training from militants in Pakistan, where he had recently visited before the attempted attack.

In Washington, Attorney General Eric Holder mentioned the investigation in testimony to a congressional committee.

“When questioned by federal agents, (Shahzad) provided useful information. We now believe that the Pakistan Taliban was responsible for the attempted attack,” Holder said Thursday.

“We are currently working with the authorities in Pakistan on this investigation, and we will use every resource available to make sure that anyone found responsible, whether they be in the United States or overseas, is held accountable. This attempted attack is a sober reminder that we face aggressive and determined enemies.”

"Unserious People" by Paul Krugman

"Now that’s pathetic. Via Steve Benen,* Eric Cantor is calling on the public to “vote” on spending cuts — like eliminating $1 million, that’s right, $1 million — in HUD dissertation grants. Because nothing does more to ensure that taxpayer money is well spent than making sure that nobody actually studies what works and what doesn’t. As Benen points out, however, the real story here is that the sums involved are ludicrously trivial; eliminating everything on Cantor’s list would amount to a rounding error on federal spending. Meanwhile, of, course, the GOP went wild against real efforts to control spending, crying “death panels.” The truth is that it has always been like this. Ever since Reagan, the conservative approach has been to talk about the need for smaller government, but refuse to offer any serious proposals for spending cuts, pretending instead that there are large sums being wasted on things nobody wants."

Crybabies To Obama: “I Need A Freakin’ Job”

President Obama was greeted by a new billboard campaign when he arrived in Buffalo, New York today:\
(CBS) Frustrated western New Yorkers have a pointed message for President Barack Obama when he visits the economically troubled region Thursday: “I need a freakin job.”
The president makes another stop on what the White House calls his “Main Street economic tour, this time to Buffalo, NY, the anchor city in a region that was hard hit long before a recession that made things even worse, reports CBS News White House correspondent Bill Plante.
Awaiting him will be a billboard carrying a simple, direct message: “Dear Mr. President, I need a freakin job. Period.” The sign is part of a media campaign called the INAFJ Project, which was organized by Buffalo businessman Jeff Baker. Baker lost his own small business 15 months ago.
“We employed 25 people and it was the most heartbreaking situation I’ve been through in my life,” he said.
The group has a website, and a video, both of which seem to be filled with llittle more than platitudes and pleas for “help” from above:

This is what the youth of American consider an appropriate response to a time of crisis.
Do they really think that putting up a billboard is somehow going to magically make things better ? That Obama is just going to “give” them a job ? Yea, I think many of them do.
We’ve gone from The Greatest Generation to The Whiniest Generation.


Eric Holder on the Arizona Immigration Law

Guest post by DRJ]

What’s Attorney General Eric Holder’s position on the Arizona immigration law? He’s critical of it even though he admits he hasn’t read it:

“Despite repeatedly voicing concerns about Arizona’s new immigration enforcement law in recent weeks and threatening to challenge it, Attorney General Eric Holder said Thursday he has not yet read the law — which is only 10 pages long.

“I have not had a chance to — I’ve glanced at it,” Holder said at a House Judiciary Committee hearing when asked had he read the state law cracking down on illegal immigrants.
On Thursday, Holder said he plans to read the law before reaching a decision on whether he thinks it’s constitutional.

When asked by Rep.Ted Poe, R-Texas, how he could have constitutional concerns about a law he has not read, Holder said: “Well, what I’ve said is that I’ve not made up my mind. I’ve only made the comments that I’ve made on the basis of things that I’ve been able to glean by reading newspaper accounts, obviously, television, talking to people who are on the review panel…looking at the law.”

As a lawyer, Holder knows better than to speak out on a law without even reading it or understanding what it says. Clearly he’s a politician first and a lawyer second, and that’s not what an Attorney General is supposed to be.

But the Obama Administration isn’t serious about immigration laws as shown by this LA Times story about U.S. Customs and Border Commissioner Alan Bersin — an Obama appointee and former U.S. Attorney — who was “scolded” by a Senate committee for not filling out and keeping I-9’s for his household employees. His excuse? He didn’t know the law.

Celtics Advance, Eliminate LeBron James, Cavs in Six Games

by Associated Press

BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics advanced to the Eastern Conference finals with a 94-85 victory over Cleveland in Game 6 on Thursday night, sending LeBron James and the Cavaliers into an early offseason destined to define the future of the franchise -- and the rest of the NBA, too.

The LeBron watch began at 10:53 p.m., when Rajon Rondo dribbled out the last 14 seconds and the Celtics began celebrating. James is eligible to opt out of his contract this summer, a move that would make the two-time MVP -- and zero-time NBA champion -- a free agent and set off a scramble for his services from New York to Miami to Los Angeles and, of course, back in Cleveland.

Kevin Garnett scored 22 points and added 12 rebounds, and Rondo had 21 points and 12 assists for Boston, which will open the conference finals in Orlando on Sunday. The Magic are 8-0 in the playoffs after sweeping the Charlotte Bobcats and the Atlanta Hawks in the opening rounds.

"Well we know their team is fueled by one guy," Garnett said. "If we could somehow, some way, control the supporting cast we had a chance"

James scored 27 points and had 10 assists and a career playoff-high 19 rebounds. Mo Williams scored 20 of his 22 points in the first half for the Cavaliers, who won an NBA-best 61 games in the regular season to earn a home-court advantage they never got to use.