Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Why Zimbalist's mistaken projections about AY revenues might be added to the call for a new ESDC hearing

Last week, an attorney representing residents of two buildings in the Atlantic Yards footprint, filed a motion in state court to enlarge the record for his planned appeal of a case, dismissed last September, which argued that the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) should hold another hearing because the project has changed considerably.

The evidence he proffered were an Independent Budget Office representative’s statement questioning the benefits from the current version of the project, as well as a financial document filed by Forest City Enterprises admitting new potential setbacks.

Now Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn adds another layer to the argument. DDDB points to a 1996 New York Times op-ed piece about "another billion-dollar sports venue boondoggle," written by Roger G. Noll, who noted that "Stadiums are bad investments, which is why the teams themselves are never willing to pay for them. New York City would generate more cash by putting the money in a savings account."

The Zimbalist connection

Noll then co-edited Sports, Jobs, and Taxes: The Economic Impact of Sports Teams and Stadiums, along with Andrew Zimbalist, who, paid by Forest City Ratner, concluded--despite huge flaws in his analysis--that Atlantic Yards would be a huge boon.

DDDB breaks it down:
Back then, Zimbalist explained his about-face in an interview: "The lion's share of the benefit--or maybe all of it--in my initial study, had to do not with the arena but with the other features of the investment." Now that the project is starting to look like nothing but an arena for an unknown period of time, perhaps it's time for Prof. Zimbalist to update his research.

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