City officials and the Broncos have applied for the Super Bowl to be held in Denver. The Republican Party has also applied to for Denver to host the 2016 GOP national convention. Let’s hope neither of these bids is successful.
I’ve long hated this sort of boosterism practiced by chambers of commerce and economic development corporations. Behind all the localized rah-rah stuff is nothing more than a bunch of politicians and local corporatists lobbying for prestige products that do nothing to improve the local economy, but instead cost many millions of dollars for heavy-handed policing imposed on a city where local businesses do not benefit, and are in fact made worse off by the heightened security and tax bills.
Such events do benefit the crony capitalists and politicians of course because they’re great for bragging rights at cocktail parties.
Meanwhile, study after study conducted by actual economists (i.e. not researchers hired to sell the idea by the chambers) show that huge sporting events and venues actually cost the city money. And of course, these studies don’t even count the inconvenience and outright injustice that occurs during events like the 2008 Democratic convention in Denver when many small businesses were in effect put out of business for the duration because they were inside the “security zone” where all civil liberties were suspended and shopping and business activities were rendered so totally inconvenient as to become nearly impossible.
The city was largely shut down and many, many people who worked in the city center were simply encouraged to take the week off. Police prowled the streets in armed gangs. This is the booster’s idea of “good for business”: Shut the city down so we can get on national TV.
One of the great things about Denver is that it’s the only city where the taxpayers rejected the Olympic Games. When city politicians and boosters successfully bid for the 1976 Winter Olympics, an opposition movement arose against what every honest person knew would result in huge costs to the taxpayers to build all the infrastructure and white elephant stadiums and venues that would result. Opponents forced a referendum and the Olympics were rejected by the voters by a 3 to 2 margin. The jilted IOC is supposedly still mad at Denver.
Today, The Daily Mail reports how New Jersey botched the public transportation to and from the 2014 Super Bowl. It’s a little difficult to see how such events, which are likely to be repeated in a variety of diverse ways by other cities that apply for the “privilege” of hosting the Super Bowl, benefit local business or the local economy in any way. The costs are far more apparent and real.
Meanwhile, such events really do invite actual terrorism by any number of groups. For these reasons, the snipers and police gangs and paddy wagons and armored vehicles are all pulled out in a show of force, as they were at the 2008 convention. It’s the height of naivete to think any of this would actually stop a motivated terrorist. Has the “national security” apparatus stopped any bombing that wasn’t an FBI setup in the first place? And you can be sure that if any actual attack were to take place, Denver would be placed under martial law and locked down for days, costing the local economy untold amounts of wealth and economic activity, not to mention additional destruction of civil liberty.
Since they offer no economic benefits to begin with, why bother with such things? The only people who truly benefit are the politicians and their cronies.