Consultants: 49ers stadium would be good for city – or not

I spoke too soon. Northern California’s ink-stained wretches may have done a decent job analyzing the claims of the San Francisco 49ers‘ consultants that a new stadium would be an economic boon for Santa Clara, but now that local tourist agencies and the city of Santa Clara have each issued their own studies, attention to detail has been the first casualty. Among the news reports in the last 24 hours:

  • Julie Patel of the San Jose Mercury News reported that a study commissioned by the Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce and Convention-Visitors Bureau and the San Jose Convention and Visitors Bureau projected the creation of 3,665 new jobs and an “economic benefit to the area of $650 million. That’s more than double the team’s projection of $249 million.” What area? Over how many years? And is that “economic activity” (spending within the region) or actual fiscal impact (new taxes collected)? No answer…

  • The San Jose Business Journal sheds a bit more light on the visitors bureaus’ study (conducted by UNC-Charlotte economics professor John Connaughton, whose previous claim to fame was estimating that a major-league baseball stadium in North Carolina would generate $140 million a year while saying of economists who have found little or no benefit from new stadiums, “I question their sincerity”), noting that “it expected the annual tax impact of ongoing stadium operations to be $7.4 million, not including state taxes.” That’s actually $5 million a year less than the 49ers’ consultants estimated.

  • Patel and colleague Mike Swift were back to report on the city of Santa Clara’s economic impact study (conducted by Keyser Marston Associates, who as near as I can tell are a real estate firm, not economists), calling the report a “major boost” for the stadium project but not a “rubber stamp,” and noting that it “concurs with the team’s prediction that the 49ers would generate $85 million annually in economic activity” – presumably within just the city, since the 49ers consultants actually estimated $249 million a year in economic activity countywide.

  • San Francisco Chronicle reporter Patrick Hoge, meanwhile, looked at the same Keyser Marston report and headlined a completely different finding: “The city of Santa Clara could make more money leasing land for an office park than for a new San Francisco 49ers football stadium, a city-hired economist says. … [A] 15-acre Class A office complex would produce $3.3 million in revenue for the city annually, while a stadium would produce just $650,000, slightly less than the $700,000 predicted by the 49ers.”

For further descriptions of the elephant, stay tuned.

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