Miami Marlins, MLB All-Star Game, Sports Biz

2017 MLB All-Star Game economic impact is the proverbial gilded turd

A report shows that the 2017 MLB All-Star Game in Miami, Florida produced $70 million in economic impact. Those dollars don’t address the real challenges of the situation in Miami, however.

The raw numbers show that the 2017 MLB All-Star Game and its accompanying festivities were a success. Proper context is necessary to understand that success, however. For the most heavily invested party in MLB in Miami, there wasn’t much impact.

According to Baseball Almanac, the economic impact of this year’s Mid-Summer Classic was a drop of about 12 percent as compared to 2016 in San Diego. It did represent about a 16 percent increase from 2015 in Cincinnati, though.

Comparing Miami as host of baseball’s premier in-season event to other cities is difficult because of so many factors playing a part. It’s far easier to look at Miami in 2017 to see how this singular event produced an impact.

There’s one important word missing from the term “economic impact,” and that’s “local.” Of that $70 million, it isn’t clear how much went to surrounding businesses owned by parties who have no investment in MLB or the Marlins. There’s another part of the language necessary for context.

Economic impact is more accurately described as revenue than profit. Expenses had to be paid out of that money, from additional security to having to account for the additional strain that the surplus of human beings put on the city’s sewer system.

With hotel, resort and sales taxes placed upon the hundreds of transactions that took place during the event, it’s hard to imagine that there was zero local impact. It’s more likely than not that the coffers of local business owners and government treasuries were enriched by the event. The question is to what extent?

The fact is that Marlins Park would have to host the MLB All-Star Game for several years in a row just to break even with what city and county taxpayers have invested in the facility. According to Lidia Dinkova of Miami Today, the figures upon completion of the stadium were $13.5 million for the city’s part and $341.3 million from Miami-Dade County. $35 million in bonds were purchased as well, backed by taxpayer proceeds.

The numbers get worse when projected out long-term, however. Miami-Dade County didn’t have all the funds necessary for its part of the stadium costs on-hand, so it borrowed money. Those millions borrowed will turn into billions re-paid out of taxpayers’ pockets over the lives of the loans with the interest computed.

$70 million in economic impact, with an undetermined amount of that actually staying in the city/county, is a poor return on the investment of the taxpayers of the locality. It could be argued that as a private business, it isn’t MLB’s job to produce wealth for the general public in Miami-Dade County. On the other hand, it wasn’t the job of the taxpayers of Miami-Dade County to provide MLB with a facility for its All-Star festivities either.

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