Tag Archives: Hockey

Do New Stadiums Lead to an Increase in Business?

Unless you’re familiar with the literature in this arena (no pun intended) or you know about Betteridge’s law of headlines, the title of this post is actually still an unresolved question for you. Well, I won’t delay the inevitable: according to research published earlier this year, the answer is no — new stadiums do no lead to an increase in business.

There are two things I want to talk about as it relates to this research. The first is Richard Florida. If this area is an interest of yours, there’s a good chance that you’ve come across him. Florida has been a professor for the last 20+ years and has written extensively on cities. Here’s a post I found from him within the last year that talks about the very thing that the journal article discussed:

The overwhelming conclusion of decades of economic research on the subject is that using public funds to subsidize wealthy sports franchises makes zero economic sense and is a giant waste of taxpayer money. A wide array of studies have shown that professional teams add virtually no income to local economies. In fact, some of them find that large subsidies actually have a negative effect, taking money out of the local economy. Aside from the jobs generated by actually building the stadium, most jobs inside the stadium—selling food and beer or working at team concessions—are low-paying temp jobs. It’s even worse for football stadiums, which are used for games at most a dozen times a year, and maybe a few more times for concerts or large events. Public economic development dollars can be put to much better use on things besides subsidizing sports teams and their wealthy owners.

Ultimately, the burden of public subsides falls disproportionately on small cities that are the least able to bear the cost. For example, a $200 million public subsidy for a new stadium ends up costing a small city like Santa Clara roughly $1,650 per resident, compared to just $50 a person for L.A. And, of course, teams in bigger cities, with their bigger markets and more revenue, often do not need subsidies at all.

The reason I raise Florida’s name is because I was surprised that I didn’t see his name mentioned in the journal article. To be fair, I don’t think that Florida has done any primary research in this domain, but I would have thought that even in the opening introduction or literature review that there may have been some reference to Florida’s constant discussion of literature like this.

Anyhow, the second thing I wanted to talk about is something that might not be measurable. Well, it might not be measurable in a simple way. As a former amateur athlete, I have a special place in my heart for sports. Certainly, there are plenty of things that one could classify as “wrong” about sports, but part of me still wants to defend it/them and I’ll be upfront: that might be part of what’s going on with this section of this post.

Something I didn’t see in the article (and probably something I wouldn’t expect to find in any well-written article) is a measure of (or discussion of?) the positive externalities that result from a city’s team winning the championship or even the spillover effects from the possible positive externalities. Now that’s a tortured sentence. I’m talking about how the residents of a city feel after their team wins the championship (in a given sport). Naturally, not everyone would be watching (or care), but for those that are fans of the team that wins, there would certainly be elevated levels of joy and happiness immediately following the victory. If there were studies done on this, I suspect that there might be comparisons to those who have won the lottery in that a couple of months after, lottery winners return to a similar level of satisfaction/happiness that they had prior to the lottery win.

I wonder, though, could we measure the economic gains for a city from this positive externality and the resulting spillover effect (in this case, let’s say the spillover effect would be the “pay it forward”-ness of joy from the fans of the team to the non-fans that the fans will be interacting with in the weeks following the city’s team’s victory). Even if there is a tangible effect that can be measured, I’m sure that any reasonable cost-benefit analysis would still conclude that a new stadium isn’t worth it for a city.

ResearchBlogging.orgHarger, K., Humphreys, B., & Ross, A. (2016). Do New Sports Facilities Attract New Businesses? Journal of Sports Economics, 17 (5), 483-500 DOI: 10.1177/1527002516641168

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Travel and Sports: Timezones Used to Have an Effect on Winning Percentage in the NBA

It’s probably not surprising to you to learn that when an NBA team travels east of its “home” timezone, it’s more likely to win and when it travels west of its “home” timezone, it’s more likely to lose. However, you may be surprised that this effect only bears out for games played during the day and more importantly, not for games played at night. This finding surprised the researchers who conducted the study as they expected to find an effect for games played at night in concert with similar studies about the NFL.

It’s important to note that the time span for this research that found this effect was in the 90s. That is, this effect with regard to day games in the NBA only accounts for the time span in the 90s (1991 to 2002, to be exact). When the researchers conducted a similar study for the years between 2002 and 2013, they found no significant effect for either the day or night games. The researchers suggested that by the decade of the 2000s, teams had been better at preparing for day games (when travelling west).

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In thinking about this research, I wonder about this effect for other sports. The researchers mentioned the work conducted on the NFL and how West Coast teams benefit when travelling east for games, but what about baseball?

MLB is different from two of the major pro sports (NBA and NHL), as it’s leagues (or conferences, if you prefer) aren’t split up between the West and the East. That is, in the NBA, there’s the Western Conference and the Eastern Conference. Similarly, in the NHL, they have a Western Conference and and Eastern Conference. In baseball (much like football), the two “conferences” are split up, but not necessarily on geographic lines. While there are divisions that are split up regionally within the conference, it’s very common for NFL teams to have to travel across the US to play another team on a semi-regular basis. And in MLB, travel from the East Coast to the West Coast (or vice versa) happens regularly.

So, I wonder, if because there’s more frequent travel to the East/West Coast for baseball teams, would we find an effect (regardless of day/night games)? If I had to hazard a guess, I suspect not. Although, I wonder, if like the researchers did with the NBA, there’d be an effect if we were able to look into the past. Maybe there’d be an effect in MLB if we went back to the 80s or maybe even the 70s.

ResearchBlogging.orgNutting, A., & Price, J. (2015). Time Zones, Game Start Times, and Team Performance: Evidence From the NBA Journal of Sports Economics DOI: 10.1177/1527002515588136

An Often Overlooked Component of Job Searching: Finding The Right Fit

When you’re out of work, finding a job can be tough. After you’ve mined your network, attended numerous job fairs, and applied to countless jobs online, there’s a good chance that you’re starting to lose hope. Well, I’m here to tell you, don’t. Don’t give up. Don’t lose hope.

Believe it or not, finding a job is not just about you. It’s as much about the jobs that are available as the skills you have to offer. Meaning, you might have just the right skills to be a network developer for a technology company, but if the technology company that you’re looking at doesn’t have any openings, then you may begin to question your abilities and skills as a network developer. You may begin to think that you might not be as good at what you do as you thought you were. The key part of that equation is that the technology company that you’re targeting doesn’t have an opening… but another technology company might.

If you’d like a more concrete example, we can look to professional sports. Since I was born and raised in Toronto, I’m a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs. It’s currently the preseason, so there are more players “on the team” than there will be in a couple of weeks when the season starts. That is, there are a number of players who are still “trying out” for the team. One of the players who is currently trying out with the Maple Leafs is Mason Raymond, who played with the Vancouver Canucks for the last six seasons.

At the end of last season, the Canucks chose not to re-sign Raymond. As a result, Raymond was able to sign with any team. To start the preseason, Raymond decided to tryout for the Maple Leafs. Given his skill, he likely could have tried out for a number of different NHL teams, but he chose the Leafs. Now, some could point to the popularity of the Leafs as a reason that Raymond chose them, but others could point to the current roster for the Leafs. That is, on paper, Raymond certainly seems to fill a role that the Leafs don’t currently have. As a result, Raymond stands a good chance of making the team.

After the first few preseason games, it certainly seems that Raymond is well on his way to making the team, too. In fact, now there may be some concern among the management of the Leafs that Raymond might be signed away by another team (Raymond’s not technically under contract with the Leafs for the season — he’s just trying out).

My point in sharing this story about Mason Raymond is that when the Canucks decided not to re-sign Raymond at the end of last season, it may have been a rather sad day for him. He might have gotten down on himself and thought that his NHL career was over. A few months later and he’s playing great for the Leafs in the preseason, which will (likely) assure him an opportunity, if not on the Leafs, on some other team.

You may feel like you’re down and out right now (like Raymond might have felt after last season), so it’s important to remember: finding a job is as much about finding the right fit as it is about putting yourself out there.

UPDATE: When I wrote this last week, Mason Raymond was still on a tryout with the Maple Leafs. This past Monday, he signed a 1-year contract. It just goes to show how important finding the right fit can be.

Second-Guessing Managers and General Managers

About a week ago, I was watching the Toronto Blue Jays baseball game and there were some questionable decisions made by the manager. (Note: questionable in that they didn’t really make all that much sense to me or another group of fans of the Blue Jays.) Based on the game situation, many viewers of the game who are familiar with the Blue Jays would have anticipated that the manager would have substituted a certain pitcher. However, this didn’t happen. In fact, the manager substituted a player that was completely unexpected.

As someone who wants to see the Blue Jays succeed, it’s flabbergasting when things like this happen. I watched as fans on Twitter were absolutely dumbfounded by the decision. And that one decision *seemingly* affected decisions in the following game. For instance, because some pitchers can’t necessarily pitch on consecutive days, by using one pitcher on Tuesday, he can’t be used on Wednesday. Having played baseball for some time and having a relatively sophisticated understanding of the game (at least when compared to an average fan), I found it hard to determine the reasoning for the decisions made by the manager. Of course, I was assuming that the primary goal was to “win the game.” However, when you consider that this might not always be the only goal, then one can begin to consider different possibilities.

For instance, maybe the general manager (GM) told the manager that he needed to have a certain pitcher showcased in a game because a scout from a different team was going to be in attendance. Or, maybe the GM said that a certain player was about to be called up and another released, so he should use that player in the game. Heck, maybe there are personality issues (or “office politics“) at play that can’t be seen by fans who simply watch the game on TV. Think about the kinds of politics that happen at your office. These kinds of politics are bound to be at play on baseball teams, especially because the personalities might be a bit more extreme (it takes a certain kind of person to become a high-performance athlete). And, sports teams probably spend more time with each other than your typical office does.

My point in all of this is that it can be tough for a fan when a manager makes a move that seems completely counter to what one would think is the primary goal: winning the game.

On a related note, the NHL free agency period recently opened. Much to the chagrin of Toronto Maple Leafs‘ fans, the Leafs decided to let go of their best center, Mikhail Grabovski. Statistically speaking, that is, if you use advanced statistics, there’s no question that Grabovski was the best center on the Leafs. However, as has been noted with statistics, one can interpret the data to fit their opinion. Regardless, the decision by the GM of the Leafs, like the decision of the manager of the Blue Jays, left fans dumbfounded. These moves by the Leafs were even more frustrating because they had to do with personnel. With the explosion of fantasy sports, many fans have had the ability to pretend to be GMs. My guess is that because of this, some fans may think that they know better (and have tangential proof?) than the current GM of their favorite team.

All this is to say that when your favorite team does something that seems contra-indicated, consider that there might be something behind the scenes that you can’t know. I know, this will probably be of little comfort, but it might allow you to gain a more nuanced perspective of the business of sports.

Does the Culture of Hockey Encourage Over-Aggression?

Last night, I happened to catch a short video clip from CBC that was rather appalling. I’m unable to embed the video, so you can watch it at the link above. The gist of the video (and article) is to tell the watcher/reader what happened in a Minor hockey game in Ontario, Canada.

One player was skating down the ice and stopped in front of the opposing team’s goalie. Upon doing this, he “sprayed” the opposing goalie. If you’re not familiar with skating (on ice), when you come to a stop, sometimes, the ‘snow’ that has accumulated on the ice will be kicked up. After the player did this, one of the opposing player’s took exception and proceeded to start roughing up the original player. The original player did not fight back and, as you’ll see from the video, took a pretty harsh beating.

The story explains that the parents took the video to the league and the police are investigating the matter as to whether there should be charges pressed.

Now, I’d like to talk a little bit about the culture of hockey and maybe broaden that to sports in general. As I was born and raised in Canada, I’m familiar with the hockey culture. Though, I never played in any organized hockey, so I won’t ever be able to fully understand the experience. Nonetheless, I still think that, as a former athlete, my opinion should carry some weight.

This player’s actions are unacceptable. The original player simply sprayed the goalie and as punishment, he was given a broken nose and a concussion. Does anyone not think that the opposing player went a little too far when he was pummeling the original player? This scenario reminds me of an episode of The West Wing. In fact, it was the 3rd episode in the series: “A Proportional Response.”

In that episode, Syrian operatives blow up a plane that’s carrying Americans (and the President’s personal physician). The President’s military advisors come up with a plan that they call, “a proportional response.” The President doesn’t like it because he doesn’t think it’s going far enough. He wants to do more damage to the country that’s responsible for those American deaths and demands to see a plan that will take out the airport in Syria’s capital city, Damascus. There’s more to the story (isn’t there always with an Aaron Sorkin script?), but at one point, the Chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff says to the President’s Chief of Staff, ” he will have doled out five thousand dollars worth of punishment for a fifty buck crime.”

Among other things, this is what it appears to me that happened in this minor league hockey game where one player committed a five dollar crime and ended up with a five thousand dollar punishment. Of course, I’m not saying that the player shouldn’t have stuck up for his goalie, but maybe he went a little overboard? And it’s certainly not the first time a player has gone overboard in sticking up for his teammate. It’s been almost 10 years since the infamous Bertuzzi-Moore incident.

I have to think that the “punisher” had he knew what was happening, wouldn’t have wanted to give the original player a broken nose and a concussion. I have to think that, because this happened, somewhere as part of the culture, this is okay. Not necessarily that it’s okay to inflict such physical damage to a player, but the culture of over-aggression is normal and maybe even lauded. Again, as I said, I never played organized hockey, so I can’t be certain of hockey culture in the dressing room or on the ice. As a spectator, I know that this isn’t something I want to see. I understand the logic and reasoning behind having enforcers on a hockey team, but I wonder what the NHL would look like without enforcers.

Every Game Counts The Same: Does It Really?

In most sports, there is a “regular” season and a “post” season. That is, the teams play against it each other for a set number of games to jockey for position in the playoffs. As I write this, I’m thinking about in particular, as it is getting very near to the end of their season. As the season comes to a close, many teams are either jockeying for position in the playoffs or they are struggling to remain one of the teams that will get to play in the playoffs.

I was having a conversation with someone the other day about the relative importance of each game, ie. “every game counts.” Some people like to say that games at the end of the season “count more” than games at the beginning of the season. They’ll tell you quite a fancy story about how and why the games at the end mean more to a team than the games at the beginning of the season. And I want to believe them. I want to believe that there’s a formula that accounts for “time” in the relative importance of games. To my knowledge, there isn’t and a game won in the beginning of the season is equal to a game won at the end of the season.

Looking at it mathematically: there are 162 games in a season. So, every game is worth 1/162nd of a team’s record. If a team wins a game on May 6th, that game is worth 1/162nd of that team’s record. If a team loses on June 12th, that game is still worth 1/162nd of that team’s record. And if a team wins the last game of the season (!) that game is still worth 1/162nd of that team’s record.

I think where a lot of people get confused or misled when it comes to games at the end of the season meaning more is because of the cultural bias. It is often written of and spoke of that games at the end of the season mean more than games at the beginning of the season. As a result, people begin to believe this and say it themselves (creating a bit of an ). At the end of the day (literally), the last game of the season has the same weight on a team’s record as a game at the beginning of the season.

Note 1: this line of thinking doesn’t apply to those sports that use a more sophisticated way of measuring the success of their teams. For instance, some sports, like soccer, often use “goal differential” as a way of distinguishing the relative placement of their teams.

Note 2: for sports that have such relatively “short” seasons like the NFL, one could argue that a game later in the season is worth more because of the various tiebreakers that are used for Winning percentage, etc., but the sentiment of every game counting the same still holds.

Luongo and the Canucks Need Energetic Help!

I had the chance to watch the end of the Stanley Cup Playoffs . Vancouver won the first three games of the series and Chicago has won the most recent two. The coach of the Canucks pulled a bold move in benching his starting goaltender, , for game 6. It had seemed that the recent play of Luongo versus the Blackhawks in the last two games ( and ) where Luongo had let in 10 goals on 40 shots (for a save percentage of .750 over the two games) warranted a shake-up, in the coach’s mind. Typically, a good goalie will have a save percentage somewhere above .900 (meaning, the goalie will stop 9 pucks for every 10 shots he faces). Conversely, goalies who aren’t regarded so well, usually have save percentages that are below .900. Almost no starting goalies have save percentages below .850, much less .800!

Some fans have tried to draw meaning from patterns of Luongo’s play against the Blackhawks during other years of playoff games. For instance, last year, in the , Chicago was the team that knocked Vancouver out of the playoffs, winning 4 games out of the 6. In the final three losses of the series, Luongo allowed 16 goals (: 5 goals; : 6 goals; : 5 goals). His save percentage in those three games: .821.

In the , the Blackhawks, again, were the team that eliminated the Canucks from the playoffs, winning 4 games out of the 6. In , Luongo allowed 5 goals and in the game-deciding , Luongo allowed 7 goals. The evidence would lead one to believe that Luongo might have a tough time of it when the game is on the line, but I don’t think that’s the case.

In Luongo’s international play, he has , most recently during the that were held in Vancouver. Not only were the Olympics being held in Canada, they were being held in Luongo’s home building! This would also seem to negate the argument by some that Luongo has a hard go of things playing in his home building (looking at the stats, there seem to be more games where Luongo allows more goals when playing at home than playing on the road in the series against Chicago).

Luongo is not a ‘green’ or rookie goalie by any stretch of the imagination. He’s been around the block. In fact, he’s reached some pretty important milestones. Earlier this year, he became the . At the age of 32, he’s the 6th youngest goalie to reach 300 wins. In his NHL playing career, he’s never had a season with a save percentage below .900 and his career save percentage is .919, which puts him at . Some would argue that save percentage is a useless stat given that the career save percentage leaderboard is full of goalies playing in today’s modern hockey era. When looking at career leaders for (a system developed in an effort to more accurately measure a goalie’s performance), . When looking at the single season leaders for this same stat, (including the #1 single season).

So, to say that Luongo is not a good goalie would be a fallacy in the largest way. There has to be something else at play here. You can’t even really say that Luongo doesn’t perform when the game is on the line. In probably the , against the United States in the Gold Medal Game, in Canada, in his home arena, being watched by over two-thirds of the country — — that’s a big-time game. If he was going to crumble under pressure, it would have been there (he allowed 2 goals on 36 shots, save percentage = .944).

There really must be some other reason that Luongo can’t seem to exercise his “ghosts” with regard to playing against the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. I haven’t watched all of these games (either this season or the last two seasons), so I can’t really say whether or not Luongo is being supported by his defense or if he’s just letting in what some would call “easy” goals. From just collecting some data for this post, it is clear to me that something else is at play.

There has to be some sort of energetic dissonance. Let me explain a little more. A few months ago, I wrote a post that briefly touched on and how there may be beliefs at play that affect the way players perform. Additionally, I pointed to the idea that there could also be a need for some work to be done on the energetic relationship of a team. There could be dissonance on an energetic level that requires work (just like when there are psychological issues you see a therapist). However, these energetic relationships are sometimes harder to see (with the naked eye). They need to be — for lack of a better word — intuited.

between the Canucks and Blackhawks is Tuesday night in Vancouver. I have no idea how well Luongo (or the Canucks) will play. If Luongo and/or the Canucks enlist the services of someone capable of effecting change on an energetic level, I have no doubt that the Canucks will win the game (as they have seemed to have been then better team all year — for the best record in the NHL). If the team fails to recognize that there is an energetic dissonance, it is quite possible that the Blackhawks send the Canucks to early “tee-times” for the third straight year.