No, the All-Star Game hype didn’t fall short

The U.S. national anthem is played before the MLB All-Star game, Tuesday, July 15 in Minneapolis. Paul Sancya / AP

The Star Tribune reports today that the Major League Baseball All-Star Game last July brought in less money to the economy than its promoters had expected. Maybe.

The $75 million expectation has been reduced to somewhere between $21 million and $55 million, which in the world of baseball we call a “gapper.”

It’s not much of a secret that governments and promoters regularly overinflate the economic impact of any sporting event — that’s how we get taxpayer-funded stadiums, but the revelation that it brought in less cash than it was expected to doesn’t answer an important question: so what?

“It looks like there’s something there, right? But what is it?” state Revenue Commissioner Myron Frans told the Star Trib . “You don’t want to overstate the case.”

“It really put Minneapolis, as a destination, on the map,” a manager of a hotel downtown said.

That’s nonsense too. Whatever boost Minneapolis gets as a nice place to go gets erased by a few nights of network TV coverage of the weather hell in which we live at this time of the year.

What the numbers don’t do is add up, because there’s a calculation missing: How much did the taxpayers spend to get the All-Star Game in Minneapolis? And there’s another one: How much is it worth just because it was a fun time to be in Minneapolis?

The concessions that the city gave to MLB were pretty secret, although initial figures seemed to be well short of its economic impact.

We’ll admit it. While watching the game on TV — we couldn’t afford the tickets — we were pretty proud that the place we live was getting some national attention for something other than cars spinning out.

It was cool to watch the Thunderbirds practice their aerial flyover in the days leading up to the game. It was exciting hearing people being excited about where they live. For a change.

When Rob Neyer of ESPN tweeted this, well, it was pretty hard to be distracted by math. We love hearing people talk about us. It forced us to consider where we live and why we’re lucky to live here.

There’s more to “living up to the hype” than how much money business made on the deal.

  • Gary F

    And folks from the Met Sports Commission are in Indianapolis today to beg for a NCAA Final Four.

    Can smell the bull excrement from here.

  • “While watching the game on TV ”

    Nah, I was at the Flaming Lips’ concert at First Avenue and couldn’t care less about watching the baseball All-Star game.

    BTW – The show was great, and it wasn’t too crowded in downtown Minneapolis even though throngs of fans were supposed to be milling about. I even took the train down there.

  • Jeff C.

    Sure, it was fun to have the game here, but why do tax dollars need to be spent on it at all? Why, when our schools need more money, when our roads and bridges need to be repaired, when people in our community need money for food and housing, are we spending our tax dollars on bringing a baseball game to Minneapolis? Because it makes us feel good? I think the argument was, “If you spend X dollars of tax money, you’ll make more than that back in sales taxes, hotel taxes, payroll taxes, etc.”, right? If it was and it didn’t happen, then we were fleeced. Tax dollars should be spent on goods and services that people NEED, not baseball games that make us feel good.

    • Because that’s the way it is. Police protection has to be increased, for example. There’s no indication, by the way, that the economy DIDN’T get more back than was invested.

      But the deeper question, to me, is why does everything have to have a profit and loss statement attached to it?

      By your logic, we should plow under parks because there’s no possible way they are a net positive on a balance sheet.

      What purpose do they have other than to make us feel good?

      I would submit to you that people choose to live where they live for reasons other than an economic benefit.

      • John Peschken

        i think you’re spot on here. Things like parks, public art, and even large events like this have value that either does not come in dollars or trying to find the dollars is just an exercise in speculation and supposition.

        The big debates over the impact of stadiums and events annoys me because no one can accurately measure the economic benefit. You can’t accurately predict or measure it. It’s just too scattered.

        • Dave

          They do have ways of estimating the impact. Almost every objective study has shown that stadiums do not a net positive impact.

          • Don’t confuse the reward for hosting an event and the building of a stadium. Those are two separate issues.

          • Dave

            Define “confuse.” The all-star game does not occur independently of the public expenditure for the stadium. We wouldn’t have had the game if we didn’t build Target Field.

      • Jeff C.

        Good point about the parks. I guess I was thinking that MLB and other privately owned companies, not the government, should be paying for everything. But I can also see why the two sides (private companies and government) need to work together and share the costs of an event like this. Thanks for the dialog.

        • Bozo

          Are you kidding me?! Which state funded parks in Minnesota charge a fee to enjoy them and for how many of those parks does the fee go to a private owner? You can’t even compare building parks (which are usually free or low cost so that they are affordable to all) with a stadium for a private sports team (where the tickets can easily exceed what an average family can afford).

          • As I”ve said multiple times, the post has nothing to do with the building of a new stadium or the economics therein. As I”ve stated before, it has to do with having an event in town.

            I’m sorry you don’t get that.

      • Michele

        From your undoubtedly charming homestead in Washington Co you may not have quite the same perspective as those of us living (and paying taxes) in Hennepin Co…

        I also think there is a huge difference between our public park system from which *anyone* to gain substantial value year round, and sports events/arenas that cost the entire community vastly more and fail to materially benefit most of the populace. You may get significant value from a sportcaster’s tweet, but I and many others don’t. I live here because I like it here and I don’t need affirmation on that point from the national media.

        • Wow , that hurt .

          And are you sure all of the people are just like you in Hennepin County? I couldn’t help but notice that the guy who championed the stadium — and, again, I think stadium financing is an entirely different discussion from providing public services for an event — kept getting re-elected over and over again.

          I agree with you that the stadium deal was a raw deal. But there it sits and the All Star game week did inject a little vitality into the city and there’s no evidence as near as I can tell that it cost more than it brought in.

          So people came into your city and left with a nice reaction and impression of the city. Maybe, even, some people who live in the city thought it was kind of cool, and there’s a pretty good chance the city DID come out ahead even if the question is reduced to a math problem..

          Deepest sympathies from the charming homestead for your situation where people had some fun in the city in which you live.

          Let me make it up to you. Let me help pay for your bus and light rail system .

          And go ahead and keep the $70 million a year communities send you in LGA. It’s on us.

          • Michele

            Mea culpa…I didn’t realize how harsh my comment came off until I had pushed the publish button. I certainly didn’t mean to offend or hurt you.

            I agree that the roi for some civic investments is realized in less concrete terms than actual dollars in the bank–sometimes it is all about the intangible enjoyment and yes, pride. But really, the stadiums (both stadiums) are costing the city, county, and state huge sums of money when taxes are already high and the electorate seems reluctant to raise taxes further. This, compounded by the reality that the payback is pretty much exclusively “intangible” in to most of the citizens, makes me really question the ultimate value of the pride/esteem we receive from seeing our fair city briefly lauded in the notoriously fickle national press.

            My humble “Thanks” for your contribution to our sadly out-dated and underperforming transit system. It looks like that will be financed with a dedicated sales tax levied in the 7 co metro, which you will be forced to pay. However it may give you some comfort to know that the transit system will help to reduce road congestion and pollution from autos as well as support a more robust economic base –all very measurable ways to access roi and not at all “intangible”. Would it ever be possible to get public buy-in for the expense of a light rail system if the only type of roi was “intangible” pride? Certainly you must agree that tangible benefits are a significant and important value to taxpayers and society in general?

            Again, my apologies for offending you.

          • Bozo

            Wow, you really are ignorant!? Again with the horrible comparisons?! Are you seriously comparing funding transportation with building a stadium for a sports team? Please stop.

          • See above.

            Also, as an aside, your argument, no matter what it may be, is not more logical or thoughtful or valid by throwing in an insult. So why don’t you leave those at home and communicate like an adult and everyone will enjoy the conversation more, OK?

            Alrighty then.

  • kevinfromminneapolis

    You picked out the two quotes that had me LOLing my face off last night. Yeah, let’s not inflate things, Myron “E-Pulltabs” Frans

  • Bozo

    You’re excited to be from Minneapolis because a bunch of overpaid athletes spent the weekend here? What ever happened to being proud of the beautiful parks, good paying jobs, friendly people, the music/food/night scene or constantly being voted one of the healthiest states? Sheesh!

    • Fortunately, we”re not limited in what.we use to individually define the livability of a region.

      You hit some good ones — although those concert headliners make a lot of money too.

      It was a week in the city, some of the events were free, it added a little seasoning to an already delightful dish and I think that can be measured in something other than a balance sheet.

      If the city and economy comes out only $20 million ahead I.stead of $40 million ahead, I don’t see a big reason for any outrage.