Every year, lawmakers, chambers of commerce and municipalities in Florida and Arizona go on about just how much of an economic impact spring training has on local economies. On the basis of that impact, they argue for the use of public dollars to construct or improve spring training facilities, and towns practically go to war with one another to lure or secure teams. The basis for this are numbers provided by The Cactus League Association and The Florida Sports Foundation, which claim that spring training brings economic benefits to local economies of $310 million and $450 million, respectively. National Review’s Charles Fountain notes, however, that these are dubious claims:
But are these numbers real?
“Politicians are making these claims, not economists,” said Phillip Porter, a professor of economics at the University of South Florida and the most oft-quoted critic of the economic-impact claims surrounding spring training. “There’s a group of sports economists, people who teach at universities and do very, very legitimate, frontline, historical, archival research in sports economics — people with no irons in the fire — and among that group of economists you’ll find uniform agreement that spring training and the presence of sports teams in a community have very little impact on jobs, on employment, on income and earning, and very little on spending.”
It’s nice to have numbers to work with. Numbers are useless, however, when those who provide them have stacked the deck in their favor.
(thanks to Pete Toms for the link)