Oilers President/Katz Arena salesman Patrick Laforge crossed a very important line recently, and one that I recall Dr. Brad Humpreys warning me would occur.
In David Staple’s story in the Edmonton Journal, Laforge opted to make the unsubstantiated claim that a new arena development would create economic benefits.
In his own words:
“This would be the catalyst for some serious new money to come to the city. ... And whatever comes to downtown Edmonton as a result, related to this investment, would be absolutely found money for Edmonton.”
“It's not just moving money from the left pocket to the right pocket. It creates new business.” (emphasis mine)
Prior to this point the Oilers/Katz group/Mayor had opted not to make this incorrect claim. In fact, they were heeding the advice they received from Dr. Dan Mason and Dr. Rosentraub.
In his final report to the Mayor’s committee (which included Laforge), Dr. Rosentraub expressly wrote:
“[C]ommunity leaders thought (or hoped) that the mere presence of a sports facility would change a city’s image and induce economic development. Independent assessments of the benefits from these facilities, predictably found no economic development enhancements, and no real shifts in a city image.”
“If used as an anchor for an overall strategy these facilities could change the location of economic activity”
Or to put it in Laforge-speak: move money from the left pocket to the right pocket.
But now, Mr. Laforge has opted to go against all the expert advice taxpayers and the Oilers paid for, and against virtually all the peer-reviewed academic research on this topic, and start making stuff up.
Funny enough, well over a year ago I recall having a discussion about the Rosentraub paper with Dr. Brad Humphreys (the foremost expert in North America on the economic benefits of new arenas/stadiums, called before Congress to testify about the economic benefits -- or lack thereof -- of the new Yankee stadium) and saying to him something along the lines of: “Hey isn’t it great that the Rosentraub paper points out that there are no economic benefits? I guess that means they won’t be able to make an argument that they know is a blatant lie.”
To which he responded to me something like: “Just wait, they will. They always do.”
Looks like he was right.