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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Better late than never?

Arlington's Mayor Cluck has proposed a metro-wide, regional sports marketing coalition, as mentioned in this Star-Telegram article.

I am all in favor of the Mayor's proposal, although I won't be surprised when a lot of other cities in the Metroplex decide that, on second thought, perhaps they don't want to contribute to the expenses incurred to solicit and host events in, let's say Arlington, Dallas, or Fort Worth, but are more than happy to free ride on whatever benefits they receive from such events.

I was quoted as being in support of the Mayor's proposal, and for once I am in support of his proposal. The costs of hosting an event at the currently-under-construction Cowboy's stadium will fall on the city of Arlington and the tax payers of Arlington unless there is some contractual or cooperative arrangement to the contrary. If neighboring towns are not going to directly contribute to the cost of building the stadium, and are expecting to free ride on the taxpayers of Arlington, the Mayor's proposal would somewhat reduce that free-rider problem. I was cited in the article as follows:
Typically, cities get their convention and visitors bureaus to market an area for a sporting event, but that would not work here, said Craig Depken, a sports economist at the University of Texas at Arlington.

"The Metroplex is so large, with venues so far away from each other like the Cotton Bowl or the Texas Motor Speedway, you may have no choice but to have some kind of arrangement like a commission," he said. "It internalizes the benefits. Many cities stand to gain, not just the city that gets the event."

The idea I was trying to convey in my quote was that the benefits of hosting an event can be shared by any number of cities, not necessarily the one that pays for the solicitation and hosting of the event. The idea of a cooperative arrangement in which the various cities in the Metroplex contribute to the costs of soliciting and hosting events would more correctly align the interests of the individual city, say Arlington or Fort Worth, with the interests of the broader Metroplex. This didn't come across very well in the particular quote used.

I say better late than never. It would have been better to finance the Cowboys stadium with a metrowide sales tax, as was done in Milwaukee and other cities, rather than relying on one city out of a few dozen to pay the bill. A third-best alternative is now having to hope that Arlington, Fort Worth, Dallas, and maybe Frisco (where FC Dallas plays) might get together to form a cooperative cost-sharing arrangement and then convince other cities to do likewise. Don't hold your breath, however, free-riders very rarely voluntarily stop free riding.

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