Friday, December 4, 2009

Rebuttal To Kill The MAPS Tax's Top 10 List: No. 10

KMT says:

10. A New Convention Center Will Not Spur Economic Growth and Recovery. That's Magical Thinking!

The KMT folks state on their website (at least they did on December 3, 2009) that “the proposed $280 million is just little more than half of the projected total costs (website’s emphasis). Consultants estimate another $250 million will be needed to “finish” the convention center complex.” I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, but they don’t cite who the “consultants” are, and where and when they made their cost assertions. That’s a red flag to me.

Next, KMT begins to hang their hat on the studies of Heywood Sanders, a professor of public administration at UT-San Antonio who has long criticized the conventional wisdom of using convention centers as growth engines. They cite his 2005 Brookings Institution study, along with an interview and a fairly even-handed review of his work and critics that makes me wonder if the site’s creators actually read it before posting it. Sanders may have some points to make, but he even admits that the data with which he conducted the Brookings study requires some strong assumptions, inductive reasoning, and fails to account for business cycle fluctuations (see the last article link). It also helps if you don’t mind anecdotal evidence. If you don’t believe me, READ THE BROOKINGS STUDY YOURSELVES. If I thought Oklahoma City was trying to pin its development hopes on a new convention center, I’d be worried as well. The point is that, while the new center is seen as an economic driver, it isn’t primary. It’s more infill and update than anything else. There are numerous structural and technical issues with the Cox Center that prevent it from hosting various conventions. To verify that information, simply contact the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau. They have resources galore that I feel confident that they will share with you.

I'm not going to comment on the list's use of a comment post from an online discussion as a supporting authority, other than to question the authority of such a source and to wonder how they discovered the poster's name.