Social Sciences Forum: The Unforseen Anticompetitive and Racially Discriminatory Effects of Baseball’s North American Draft (9/18)

Stephen RossOn Thursday, September 18 at 4:00 p.m. in the University Center Room 312, Stephen F. Ross, Director, Penn State Institute for Sports Law, Policy, and Research, Penn State University Dickinson School of Law, will present the Social Sciences Forum, “The Unforseen Anticompetitive and Racially Discriminatory Effects of Baseball’s North American Draft.”

When Major League Baseball instituted its amateur draft in 1966, elite players honed their sills in widely available competitions organized by high schools and the American Legion.  Today, virtually all North American youth selected in the draft or offered major college scholarships must join private, elite, and expensive traveling teams to display their talent.  In contrast, MLB teams spend millions to train poor Latin American kids in academies, because these young men are not subject to the draft. Ross, Lewis H. Vovakis Distinguished Faculty Scholar and Professor of Law, will propose modifications to create economic incentives for MLB teams to invest in domestic academies for youth unable to afford private teams.

The event is sponsored by the Department of Economics. For more information, click here.

Scott Farrow, Economics, Named Economics Coordinator for the Department of Homeland Security’s National Center on the Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE)

Economics Professor Scott Farrow has been named part-time economics coordinator for the Department of Homeland Security’s National Center on the Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE). The center was established in 2004 and is an interdisciplinary national research center based at the University of Southern California. The center is comprised of a team of experts from around the country who work to identify where terrorist attacks may occur and what the economic consequences of those attacks may be.

On the website announcement that states Farrow will lead CREATE’s economic efforts, it reads: “CREATE researchers are making conceptual and empirical advances in developing a comprehensive consequence analysis framework. CREATE embeds this cost analysis in the broader risk-based framework, including the impact of behavioral economics, and further integrates these efforts by providing the estimates of benefits and costs related to risk management applications.”

To read more about CREATE, click here. To read the official announcement naming Farrow economics coordinator, click here.

Dennis Coates, Economics, in The Baltimore Sun

After the nonprofit Washington 2024, an organization that is supporting bringing the 2024 Summer Olympics to Washington, D.C., recently launched its website, The Baltimore Sun published an article examining what Maryland’s role would be in hosting the Olympics, which still remains largely undefined.

Economics Professor Dennis Coates was quoted in the story and said in order for D.C. to manage hosting the Olympics, it would need to host events in Maryland.

“I think there is no way D.C. can manage it if they don’t get a buy-in from Maryland,” said Coates. “They’re probably going to use facilities at FedEx [Field].” He added: “The problem I would have as the governor is, ‘You want us to contribute but what are we getting in return?’ When people look at this, it won’t be the Maryland Olympics. It will be the Washington Olympics.”

Staging the Olympics “probably doesn’t make sense financially,” Coates said. “But if it makes sense anywhere, this is as likely a place as any. I say that because we have lots of stadiums in place and basketball arenas that can be used for gymnastics competitions. We also have pretty good roads, a good Metro system and excellent airports. In that regard, we would have lower costs. We wouldn’t have to build all those things.”

To read the full article in The Baltimore Sun, click here.

Tim Brennan FCC Appointment Extended

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has extended the appointment of UMBC public policy and economics professor Tim Brennan as chief economist through December 31, 2014.

Dr. Brennan’s appointment is part of an FCC program that brings in scholars from academia to provide outside perspectives and advice on challenging issues. Dr. Brennan has held the position of FCC chief economist since January, 2014.

Dennis Coates, Economics, in The Baltimore Sun and The Buffalo News

As the Buffalo Bills search for a new owner, state and county officials in New York could be faced with a complicated scenario if the new owner arrives with a demand to build a new stadium. An article published July 28 in The Buffalo News examines the question: do taxpayers get their money’s worth by public dollars helping to build sports stadiums? 

Considering the situation in Buffalo, Economics Professor Dennis Coates was interviewed for the story and said teams are increasingly getting money from taxpayers to directly help with operating costs of stadiums.

One of the arguments for a new stadium in Buffalo is that if it keeps the Bills there, it’s good for the community’s sense of pride. In the article, Coates recalled growing up in Western New York when basketball’s Buffalo Braves left in 1978. “I don’t think anybody cared much. But the Bills? People would care.”

Coates lived in the Baltimore area when the Colts football team left for Indianapolis. “I saw firsthand how that made people here feel. … That sort of thing was like losing a loved one.” But, he cautioned, taxpayers should not think a new Bills’ stadium would be an economic boost for the region. In fact, studies have shown that the stadium deals cost more each year to taxpayers – when all the subsidies are factored in – than they return on any sort of dollar basis.

Coates was also interviewed by The Baltimore Sun for a July 28 article looking at the decision to change the name of the University of Maryland’s Comcast Center to the Xfinity Center. Discussing the benefit of naming rights agreements in college sports and looking at what the deal may mean for the Xfinity brand, Coates said, “that doesn’t mean they don’t get some sort of goodwill out of it,” he added, “they must be doing it because they think it generates profit.” Changing the Comcast Center’s name “is kind of an unusual case” because it doesn’t involve a new corporate player, Coates said. “Usually it’s a complete change in the company.”

To read the complete version of both articles, click below:
Teams have upper hand in stadium negotiations (The Buffalo News)
University of Maryland arena is rechristened Xfinity Center (The Baltimore Sun)

Update: Coates was also interviewed for an article about the possibility of a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills in The Deal Pipeline on August 7. That article can be found here

Dennis Coates, Economics, on WAMU’s Metro Connection

Does it make sense to host the 2024 Summer Olympics in Washington, D.C.? Economics Professor Dennis Coates recently shared his thoughts on this question on WAMU’s Metro Connection. The U.S. Olympic Committee has confirmed Washington, D.C. as a finalist to host the Olympics along with San Francisco, Los Angeles and Boston.

Coates shared insight on whether the financial investment in hosting the Olympics in D.C. would be worth the return. “By and large most of the cities that hosted saw a decline relative to what would have happened had they not hosted the event,” he said. And the primary reason, he believes, is the crowds.

“People respond to the possibility of crowds, if they’re locals, by saying one of two things. One is ‘I’m getting out of Dodge,’ which means there is a lot of flight so normal expenditures don’t occur. The other is ‘I am not leaving my house,’” Coates said.

Coates also addressed the argument that hosting the Olympics can lead to investment and improvements in infrastructure. “If you need the infrastructure, build the infrastructure,” he said. “You don’t need to throw a party for the world to justify spending the money to redo highways, pave some roads, work on the subway system or whatever. It’s well justified if it’s worth doing; it doesn’t need a party to justify it.”

To listen to the full, six-minute interview with Coates that aired on Metro Connection, click here.

Dennis Coates, Economics, on Econ Journal Watch

Economics Professor Dennis Coates was recently a guest on an Econ Journal Watch podcast discussing his research that found economists mostly frown on government subsidies for professional sports franchises, facilities and events. He was a guest on the program with Brad Humphreys, an associate professor of economics at the University of Alberta.

During the interview, Coates commented on claims that sports stadiums bring economic benefits and prosperity to cities and their immediate metropolitan areas.

“The evidence is that they are minimal at best, and may in fact even be negative,” Coates said. “We think of tangible benefits as job creation and income growth, and any benefits that occur, they occur in a form that is not job creation or income growth or tax revenue growth.”

To listen to the full podcast on Econ Journal Watch and for more on the research by Coates and Humphreys, click here.