San Diego put down sharp rocks to keep homeless from sleeping near All-Star Game

When San Diego city officials installed jagged rocks under a highway overpass near the Padres‘ Petco Park in April to prevent homeless people from sleeping there, many locals assumed it was an attempt to clear out homeless in advance of July’s MLB All-Star Game. City officials countered that the rocks were there at the request of local residents. The news site Voice of San Diego filed a public-records request to find out the truth, and duh, it was all about the All-Star Game:

Sherman Heights is never mentioned in dozens of emails exchanged between city staffers discussing the rock installation. Rather, the rocks were part of a larger effort to clean up the area prior to the July 12 All-Star Game and improve the flow of traffic to and from Petco Park. Early plans, emails show, called for rocks not only along Imperial Avenue, but also along two blocks of a wall lining Petco Park’s Tailgate Park as well as outside the New Central Library, all in an effort to deter camping and loitering near the ballpark during All-Star Game festivities…

John Casey, the city’s liaison with the Padres until March, took the lead on getting price quotes for the rocks. In multiple emails, he urged city staff to move the project along. “Any breakthroughs?” he wrote in a November email. “The Padres and SDPD are asking me when we can see the curbs painted red as well as the rocks at the underpass and Tailgate Park wall.”

In early January, Casey emailed City Traffic Engineer Linda Marabian and laid out a checklist of remaining work to be done before the All-Star Game.

“Back to the vision of Imperial as a Gateway to East Village,” he wrote. “The wrought iron fence has been installed on the wall at Tailgate Park and works well at discouraging loiterers. Remaining work in anticipation of the All Star game is: Rip Rap rocks under the I-5 overpass at Imperial on both sides of the street. Rip Rap rocks at the base of the Tailgate Park wall from 12th to 14th.”

The VoSD didn’t report on where the homeless went who have been displaced from their camp under the overpass. Wherever it is, one hopes that they appreciate it as one of the ancillary benefits of their city getting to host an All-Star Game.

Minneapolis All-Star Game impact overstated by 27-72%, says state revenue department

It is very, very rare for a public agency to take a look at the actual impacts of a major sporting event after the fact, as opposed to just throwing around crazy numbers beforehand. So props to the Minnesota Department of Revenue, which followed up on projections that the 2014 All-Star Game would bring $75 million in new economic activity to the state by actually counting up sales tax data, and finding that the actual figure was likely a whole lot less:

The state Department of Revenue, reviewing sales tax data for Minneapolis, added that the true figure could be as high as $55 million, or as low as $21 million…

“At the time, it seemed believable to me,” [Meet Minneapolis director of market research Kevin] Hanstad said of his original projection. Hanstad said he based his forecast in part on the estimated $60 million that the All-Star Game brought to Kansas City and St. Louis, though he added that those estimates were “loosey-goosey.”

He said the actual number for Minneapolis is likely closer to $50 million, and added that even that number remains uncertain. Hanstad said he has the most confidence in just one statistic — that the game itself, played on a Tuesday night, generated $26.9 million in economic benefit.

“It looks like there’s something there, right? But what is it?” said state Revenue Commissioner Myron Frans, who said it is difficult to separate any boost from the All-Star Game from the general upswing that Minneapolis’ economy has seen since 2010. “You don’t want to overstate the case.”

The numbers from the city tourism board Meet Minneapolis, including that $26.9 million figure, are actually more suspect, because they just add up spending at the game and related events, without accounting for what gamegoers didn’t spend on that week. (Data point: When the All-Star Game was in New York in 2013, I dropped several hundred dollars to take my son to the Futures Game, FanFest, Home Run Derby, and the All-Star Game itself. Suffice to say we otherwise didn’t leave the house much that month.) The state revenue figures, on the other hand, at least try to empirically measure the All-Star bump, by comparing tax receipts this July to overall trends.

Their answer — $21 million to $55 million — seems completely reasonable, given that economists have estimated that the Super Bowl’s total impact is around $100 million in new spending, and that’s, you know, the Super Bowl. Remember, though, that this is just economic activity: total money changing hands within the state’s borders. Minnesota’s sales tax rate is 6.875%, which would put the state’s actual take from the All-Star Game at a total of around $2-4 million — maybe a million or two more if you add in any extra state income taxes paid by Minnesotans who made a smidge more money this summer. That’s not nothing, but given that the All-Star Game cost the public about $600,000 in rent breaks, traffic costs, and police expenses — not to mention $387 million for the Twins stadium that earned Minneapolis the right to host the game — it’s pretty unimpressive as windfalls go. I hope the Firestone bunt-at-a-tire game was fun, anyway.

Minneapolis to set up “clean zones” during All-Star Game to ensure wrong kinds of people don’t benefit

This year’s All-Star Game will be held at the home of the Minnesota Twins, and the Minneapolis city council is already hard at work ensuring that local residents will be able to profit from the event:

A resolution making its way through the Minneapolis City Council would give the league veto power over any temporary businesses licenses in three designated “clean zones” from July 5-20. The All-Star Game is July 15.

The city has also agreed to assign police and licensing inspectors to ensure that the clean zones are free from any unauthorized commercial activity, including:

(i) transient vending or other sales by any individual or entity;
(ii) sampling of consumable items…

If you’re wondering why Minneapolis is agreeing to do all this after it’s already been assigned the event, apparently it was part of the deal that the previous city manager agreed to back in 2011 to get MLB to grant them the 2014 All-Star Game, and this would just make it “official.” Though it does raise the question of what MLB would do if the council changed its mind now. Move the game to Vancouver?