Nice piece from ABC News on Friday of the dubious benefits of hosting the World Cup, on which South Africa is spending $1.7 billion for new stadiums. A large part of the article consists of quotes from sports economist Rob Baade, who notes that his studies of such “mega-events” show they’re not worth all they’re cracked up to be in economic terms:
Before the Summer Olympics in 2004, the excitement among business owners in Athens, Greece was palpable, Baade recalled. After the Games? Not so much.
“They all told me they wouldn’t do it again,” he said, “because the infrastructure that is so critical to creating something in the way of an economic legacy was really disruptive to the normal flow of economic activity, so much so that some business owners said their revenues were down by 80 to 90 percent as a games…When you disrupt commercial activity, you’ve got to consider that as a cost.”
“When you put all those things together, that’s a pretty lengthy list,” he cautioned. “We really found that mega-events do not provide the kind of boost that apologists for the games argue will occur as a consequence. Things don’t materialize as a lot of people hope and think.”
Not to be dissuaded, sports consultant Lee-Anne Bac of Grant Thornton played the “intangibles” card, saying the real benefit would be that the World Cup “really starts to put South Africa on the map.” But as I’m sure Baade would be quick to point out, there is such a thing as bad publicity.