Tuesday, August 30, 2005

A question about jobs created by a new Yankee Stadium

Question: Won't building a new Yankee Stadium create a lot of jobs for the community and have a positive impact on the local economy?

Bob Trumpbour's (of Friend of Yankee Stadium) answer:

New stadium advocates commonly decide to count the temporary jobs that would be created by constructing a new stadium. That is the easiest one to publicize since these are typically well paying jobs, rather than the low paying temporary food vendor and parking attendant positions that might pad the job estimates if the increased concession areas result in more hot dogs and drinks being sold than in an older stadium with narrow concourses and less vending space (such as Yankee Stadium).

However, the claim that jobs are "created" for new construction is somewhat of a red herring. First, they are temporary jobs that will go away as soon as construction is finished. But more importantly, they are jobs that could be created by replacing ANYTHING in an urban environment.

For example, we could knock down the Statue of Liberty every ten years or so and replace it with a "new and improved" Statue of Liberty. The unending cycle of new construction would certainly create construction jobs, but the real question would be, would a new Statue of Liberty attract new dollars from out of the region, since that is the best way to determine whether real long-term economic progress has been made? My hunch is that, like Yankee Stadium, some economic activity would come to the new Statue of Liberty initially (probably out of curiosity at the kitch factor), but the long term impact would be tempered by the knowledge that this is not the same emotionally powerful structure that so many immigrants first saw when they entered into America.

In the same vein, out-of-region fans would realize that the new ballpark in New York is not very different, other than the team logos and possibly nuanced differences in interior color schemes, floor surfaces, and concession facilities, than the same newer ballparks that you can find in most other cities. I suspect that after a visit many would say "it was a nice experience, but it's pretty close to what we've got here in Cincinnati, so I'll take a rain check on a future New York ballpark visit unless I happen to be in town for another reason and feel like seeing a Yankees game."

This does not mean that the Yankees will not make more money from a new ballpark, however. I suspect they might sell more concession product and make considerably more from skybox revenue and other things, but more of it would likely come from New York metropolitan residents after the "novelty effect" wears thin and tourists feel less inclined to stop by the Bronx.

When analyzing this, "unit of analysis" is important. If the city argues that folks from Jersey, Long Island, and places outside the city will enhance the revenue position of the city with increased merchandising revenues, then they might be right, but if the money remains in the metropolitan area and is cycled within the metropolitan area only (if out-of-region tourist dollars drop with the new facility), then NYC may gain a little and Jersey and nearby New York counties might lose a little, but overall, no real economic growth will have occurred for the larger metropolitan area.

In short, the spending will be a wash for the metropolitan area, as people have a limited amount of money to spend on entertainment. If someone spends more lavishly at a Yankees game, they might economize and instead of going to a swanky upscale restaurant near their home and a comedy club later in the week (since their budget won't allow for it), they will send out for pizza and rent a movie for an evening.


At 11:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fans stop going to Yankee Stadium because of "discretionary income factors"? That'll be the day. And what's the difference, really? It's expensive enough at the current ballpark. Besides, most people who attend Yankee games are from outside the city, anyway. The stadium's been there for 80+ years. So to say that neighborhoods would be adversely affected by moving it across the street is ludicrous!


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