Tag Archives: NFL

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

What’s Wrong with the Dallas Cowboys?

Yesterday evening was the last game of the 2013 NFL regular season. It featured the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys — bitter rivals — in what was a game where the winner was crowned the NFC East division champion. Both teams took very different paths to the game. The Eagles started the season quite poorly, losing 5 of their first 8 games. The Cowboys finished the season quite poorly, losing 3 of their last 4 games (including the game last night against the Eagles). The one win in the last 4 games for the Cowboys was in the game just before last night’s game where the team’s QB, Tony Romo, played through a season-ending injury to lift the Cowboys to victory.

As Tony Romo was one of the team’s stars, most people didn’t give the Cowboys much of a chance of winning last night’s game. However, there they were, in the waning minutes of the game, with a chance to win. What happened instead? A mental error. The Cowboys have been making mental errors near the end of the game more frequently than they had been in decades past. More importantly, there have been these mental errors when the game is on the line.

Let’s back up for a moment and look at the Cowboys as a franchise. They are one of the most storied football teams in the NFL and certainly one of the most lucrative. In the ’90s, they had what could be called a dynasty when they won the Superbowl in 3 out of 4 years between 1992 and 1995. In the decade of the ’90s, they only missed the playoffs twice (1990 and 1997). In that one decade, they made the playoffs more times than they have in the past 14 years (6 times). What happened?

In 2000, Troy Aikman, the star QB of the ’90s for the Cowboys, retired. In the time between Aikman (and Romo), the Cowboys had a potpourri of QBs that I’m sure most people would rather not remember. In 2006, when Romo took over as the starter in the middle of the season, the Cowboys went on to make the playoffs. They went on to make the playoffs in 3 out of the first 4 seasons that Romo was the QB, but haven’t been back to the playoffs in the last 4 seasons.

Based on how some of those seasons ended and/or how some of those playoff games ended, it seems evident that Tony Romo is in dire need of a sports psychologist. If we go back to the 2006 season playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks, Tony Romo dropped the ball when the kicker was attempting a go ahead field goal with less than 100 seconds left in the game. Or the playoffs in the next season when the Cowboys were tied for the 2nd best record in the NFL. Tony Romo threw an interception in the end zone with less than 10 seconds to go in the game. Or last season’s final game when all the Cowboys had to do was win and they were in the playoffs — Romo threw 3 interceptions. Last night Romo didn’t play, but if we can look at more than one game this season when Romo threw an interception when the game was on the line (against the Broncos and against the Packers).

Because of how the game ended last night, with the Cowboys QB — again –throwing an interception when the game was on the line, I wonder if there might be something else at play here. A couple of years ago, I wrote about some of the problems that the Vancouver Canucks goalie was having in the Stanley Cup Finals and how there might be something else that was affecting play. I wonder if that might be happening with the Dallas Cowboys’ QBs right now.

Part of the reason I talked about the success of Troy Aikman and the Cowboys during the ’90s is because I wonder if something changed — energetically speaking — with the “position” of the Cowboys QB. I know that this might sound strange, but it’s an option worth considering. Tony Romo has been one of the best QBs — statistically speaking — since he’s been in the NFL. He’s already thrown for 50 more TDs than Troy Aikman did in his career and Romo has played in 50+ less games. Romo currently has a 95.8 career passer rating. Currently, that ranks him 5th highest — all-time. Assuming Romo is able to recover from his injury, he’ll more than likely pass Troy Aikman on the all-time passing yards list, where Aikman currently ranks 30th. Tony Romo has been a fantastic QB for the Cowboys — statistically. However, when the game is on the line, things haven’t exactly gone his way. As a result, I’m lead to believe that, a) a sports psychologist is in order, and b) maybe there’s something energetically at play that’s affecting the organizational position of “Dallas Cowboys QB.” It might behoove Jerry Jones to call someone who can figure it out.

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.

Why I’m Considering Not Watching Football

For the better part of my life, I have been a football fan. I’ve seen every since 1991 and seen quite a few between then and now, too. However, I’m strongly considering not watching football anymore. Based on my previous fandom, this may seem strange. The obvious question follows — why?

Well, I had planned on doing a rather lengthy post (in the same fashion as my series or series), but instead, have decided to keep this quite short. Most people know about the injuries that can come from playing football. The more noted injuries are concussions. Of course, concussions happen in sports other than football, but it seems pretty clear to me that of the 4 major sports in America, football is by far the most dangerous.

Plenty has been written about concussions and football over the last couple of years. Here’s a smattering:

— Time, 2010

— Amarillo [Texas] Globe-News, 2012

— The Sporting News, 2012

— Niners Nation, 2012

— Niners Nation, 2012

— Bleacher Report, 2012

— Washington Post, 2102

Some may point to the injuries in other sports and say that it’s only natural for there to be injuries in football, too — it’s a contact sport. While that’s true, football is a contact sport, how much are we — as spectators — willing to put up with? It’s probably a bit over the top to compare the football of today to what they did in .

The last point I want to make about this: consider that when you watch something on TV or when you  buy something at the store, you are, in a sense, endorsing that program or that product. I realize that for some, there can sometimes be restrictions on what they can or cannot buy. I’d like to think, however, that we can all choose not to watch a sport that we think does not espouse the values we hold to be true.

Is it Time for More International Sports Events?

I’m that I haven’t written more about , but I’ve got a couple of posts (including this one) coming on the subject.

Having been born and raised in North America, the sports that are ‘native’ to me are very different from the sports that would be native to me had I been born and raised in a different part of the world. I grew up watching the (hockey) and (baseball). I played baseball all the way up to (and for part of) university. The weird thing to me is that when I visit places abroad, it’s not that these sports are foreign (or looked down upon), but that these sports aren’t played and revered in the same way that they are in North America.

For example, when I was for a few months, it was all about the (rugby). In fact, the country kind of “shuts down” when the All Blacks are playing. This doesn’t usually happen in North America. Well, maybe more accurately, it doesn’t usually happen in the US. I know that it definitely happens in Canada. Remember the in Vancouver? More specifically, remember the game? (22 million people of the 33 million living in Canada) watched Sidney Crosby score the overtime winner.

This whole post was sparked by a couple of ‘global’ sports events. The first, the . I happened to be in Munich on the day of the game (I’ve never seen so many uniformed and undercover police in one place!) From what I understand, the UEFA Champions League Final is like the Superbowl in the US, but only 5 times . More noteworthy for me is that the Champions League Final usually draws more viewers internationally. This is due, in part, to the teams that play in this league not all being from the same country. Nonetheless, when I’m watching a game like this, I feel like there’s more of a shared community. I can imagine people in Spain watching the game at the same time that people in Russia and Australia are watching the game. Of course, that may be the case with the Superbowl, but I don’t feel it as much.

The second sports event that helped spark this post was . Having an Italian lineage (my last name is STANGHINI), I feel a sense of connection to the country and by extension, the . I was really excited when they tied Spain during the group play and then a little worried when they tied Croatia. They went on to beat Ireland to advance to the knockout stage where they then beat England on PKs and handily defeated Germany setting up a rematch of their first game in the group play with Spain in the final. The game seemed close in the 1st half (even though Spain was up 2-0), but once , Spain dominated control of the ball.

Both of these events made me think more about sports on a global level. They made me think (and wish?) for more coverage and (excitement!) from North American countries of international sports events. Yes, baseball is fun and it’s great to see the Blue Jays play the Red Sox or the Yankees, but I really liked the when Cuba played the Dominican Republic or the USA played Japan. I really like it when there’s more of an international engagement. Yes, I enjoy a good Leafs game, especially if it’s against the Canadiens, but I get even more excited to watch a Canada-USA game or a Canada-Russia game. The one problem I can see with all of this is that North American countries are simply responding to their customers. That is, the customer wants to watch the NFL or the NHL, so that’s what gets put on the .

Although, there has been a decided shift to show more international sports events on TV. For instance, I notice that there is a lot more coverage of cricket on Rogers Sportsnet. Maybe North American countries are moving in this direction. Only time will tell.

Should Influential Athletes Be Doing More With Their Celebrity?

released their list of the a few days ago and to my surprise, topped the list. Johnson, a athlete, along with two others from the sport, made the list: and . Admittedly, I’m quite shocked to see so many NASCAR drivers in the . Truth be told, I’m not one who follows NASCAR, but I understand that it has . Given the , I would have assumed athletes from the would have filled the list. As I read the article, it was easier to understand why the lack of big 4 athletes was the case.

The author explains that the list only includes active athletes (so the likes of and other Winter Olympics athletes like and ) have fallen off of the list. More than that, with the decline of and no singular identifiable face of or the , the picture of more NASCAR athletes seems to make sense. Another reason cited by the article is the potential or (in-progress) labor strifes, which understandably, would limit the viewership of certain athletes. Although, I’m still surprised by the total make-up of the list. There were three NASCAR drivers that I already mentioned, four NFL athletes (, , , and ), two NBA players ( and ), and one Olympic Athlete ().

At first blush, Shaq isn’t someone I would expect to see in the top 10, especially so late in his career, but then when I go and look at some of the things that he has done off the court (music, acting, TV, etc.) I’m reminded that he has quite a lot of exposure. Another athlete that surprised me was Troy Polamalu, but I suppose those have really escalated him to a household name. I wouldn’t expect Tim Tebow to be on this list, but I guess with his , that can also be explained.

The most important takeaway from this article for me is the potential for these athletes to really make a difference in the lives of people. Most athletes do some and I think that’s great! With the influential power that the athletes from this list have, I think it’d be pretty cool if one of them decided to do something on the . She was as saying, “As much as I would love to never have to visit Washington, that’s the way to move the ball.” Maybe it’s a little too much to ask athletes to put time and energy into “moving the ball” in Washington.

I understand, from my own brief stint as an NCAA athlete, that to be a professional athlete takes a lot of hard work. Many fans think that athletes just play the game and collect their paycheck. There are hours and hours of work that go into strength & conditioning, not to mention the hours and hours (10,000+ hours?) of work that go into perfecting one’s skills at their given sport. I’m not saying they deserve the money they get for what they do, but I’m also not saying that they don’t deserve that money, either.

Most importantly, I want to make a difference in the world. A very positive and noticeable difference in the world. So, when I see a list like this that come out identifying influential athletes, I can’t help but vicariously live through one of them and imagine the enormous good that I could create.

Note: I couldn’t find a way to access the dataset compiled by E-Poll and Nielsen Media Research that help to populate this list (if you can, please post it in the comments), but it seems to me that they only interviewed American adults. I would say that this contributes to there being very little international flavor on the list with the likes  (or even a famous cricket player like ).