Here Is A Lie

Raymond James Stadium will host the 2017 college football national championship game. Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan has a highly scientific prediction that it'll be the single greatest thing that's ever happened to Tampa's economy:

Hagan said he expects the championship to be an economic boon to Tampa "in the range" of the Super Bowl, bringing somewhere between $250 million and $350 million to the area, along with approximately 1,700 to 1,800 full-time jobs.

If Hagan wants to explain how a single game, at a stadium that already exists, is going to create 1,700 full-time jobs, we're happy to listen.

There hasn't been a ton of research on the economic impact of hosting a big sporting event, but what there is isn't pretty. Since Hagan cited the Super Bowl, we'll cite Philip Porter's research that found the net local impact of six different Florida Super Bowls was effectively zero, with the money going to out-of-town hotel owners, and the events actively crowding out other businesses. Or Dennis Coates's and Brad Humphreys's study showing no change in per capita income in Super Bowl host cities. Slightly more optimistically, there's Robert Baade's and Victor Matheson's study of 25 Super Bowls that found the NFL overstated the economic influx by a factor of 10, and local politicians exaggerated even more.

None of this really matters in Tampa, which won the FBS title game, and good for them—it's fun to host a big-time sporting event. But the thought process behind Hagan's unsupported claim is the same insidious sort that leads to pro team owners milking publicly funded stadiums out of local politicians. Next time you're told that hosting a sport will be good for the economy, take it with a grain of salt–and a spoonful of sugar to help swallow that bullshit.

Photo by Matthew Paulson