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Archive for January, 2013

Foxx vs. McCrory on streetcar funding

Or something like that. Odd, odd story in the UPoR about Gov. Pat McCrory telling Charlotte city officials that if they build the street car line, they may not get state money for the for the light-rail extension to UNC-Charlotte. And Mayor Anthony Foxx in turn responded by telling the Gov. rather bluntly that it’s none of his business. And some street car supporters are now wondering out loud whether city council’s surprise decision not to move ahead with a Capital Improvement Program that included the street car back in June was a result of McCrory’s interference.

Oh, and all this while Pat McCrory has only been in office for less than month, which makes you wonder what sort of weirdness we can expect done the road been the pols really start to not like each other.

In any case, you can read more about it here.

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Delta adds Atlanta – Burlington flights

Burlington, VT is one of the largest markets within 1,200 of Charlotte without nonstops flights. It’s also unique among the larger places without flights in that US Airways current flies there from some of its other hubs. A few months back, Burlington won a federal SCASD grant to attract service on either Delta to Atlanta or US Airways to Charlotte.

Delta has just added a daily Atlanta-Burlington flight come June. I don’t know if this is tied to the SCASD money but if it is, then it would seem to reduce the odds of US Airways starting up Charlotte – Burlington service.

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Thom Tillis and the Panthers

Was working on a longer post on the Panthers when House Speaker Thom Tillis spoke about state money for the Panthers stadium upgrades. From the UPoR:

“We would not be appropriating money to go directly into the stadium up-fit. But I’ve also spoken with the various elected officials at the local level to consider options that they were talking about in terms of local revenue. We will continue those discussions.”

Tillis said he’ll treat the team like any other major employer. He said the Panthers are responsible for 4,400 direct jobs and an estimated 1,500 indirect jobs.

I’ve been in the public policy biz for awhile and I’m not sure I’ve ever felt so intellectually insulted by something a pol said. As an economist, there is no way that the Panthers account for 4,400 net full-time jobs. The Panthers probably employ maybe a couple hundred of people full-time — and that includes players. On top of that, there’s a cast of, yes maybe even thousands, with 40 hour a year jobs. And that is the extent of it. And Thom Tillis knows that. As does anyone with the intelligence of an amoeba. The facts are simple enough: Tillis is going to throw money at crony capitalist Jerry Richardson and by extension a bunch of millionaire players. He just hasn’t figured out yet what sort of taxes and subsidies will be involved. And this doesn’t come as surprise because Tillis has previously said he’d do it. And there’s just no sugar-coating it, as much as Tillis may try.

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DNC economic impact

From the UPoR:

September’s Democratic National Convention injected $91 million in new spending into the local economy, for a total economic impact of nearly $164 million, according to a consultant’s report released Monday.

The three-day DNC was the city’s largest convention and its most lucrative, local leaders said during a news conference Monday. More than one in five dollars poured into the local economy came from the federal government, through a security grant.

Is that overstated? Of course. As overstated as if the CRVA had calculated it themselves? No. But when the city of Charlotte, Center City Partners, the Charlotte Chamber, the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority and the Charlotte Regional Partnership hire a consultant to calculate the impact of something like this, they’re looking for someone to provide them with the answer that they want to hear.

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US Airways delays Sao Paulo start

By five weeks, from May 5 to June 8. And no, this is not the sort of thing an airline typically puts a press release out on. Would presume it’s an aircraft availability issue, as US Airways is due to get two new A330-200 about that time, which are need to free up the 767-200ERs that will be used on the Sao Paulo service.

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Racing hurting for money

In Formula 1. From the BBC:

If there is not enough external sponsorship out there to maintain the whole grid, where will the money come from to keep the sport’s wheels turning?

Currently, teams get their funding from sponsors and from TV companies, who do their deals with F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone, who then distributes about half the funds to the teams. But TV companies, with one or two exceptions, are also feeling the pinch.

Meanwhile, one alarming statistic is regularly trotted out. F1’s entire global TV rights income is about the same as that of the Turkish football Premier League – in the region of $490m.

Most are astonished to hear that, but it seems as if it’s accurate, as far as these figures can be accurately assessed. Which raises questions about whether the sport is being marketed and promoted as effectively as it might be.

And, yeah, in NASCAR too. From the UPoR:

International Speedway Corp., which owns Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway, reported Thursday that its revenue slipped about 1.3 percent in the fourth quarter compared with the year before.

Ticket revenue fell about 4.7 percent compared with the same quarter last year. Still, the company said that beat a 10 percent decline in 2011.

Charlotte-based Speedway Motorsports Inc., which owns tracks including Charlotte Motor Speedway, reported in its most recent quarter that ticket revenue fell from $51.6 million in the prior year to $36.2 million.

Shifts in race schedules accounted for some of the drop, SMI said, but acknowledged lower attendance was responsible for some of the drop.

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Mecklenburg County’s latest tax assessment issue

Per the Charlotte Observer, hiring a new revaluation manager with a questionable past:

After months of complaints about Mecklenburg’s 2011 property reappraisal, questions have surfaced about the county’s choice for a new revaluation manager.

In June, the county hired Kim Horton, a former tax administrator in Alamance County who presided over a botched revaluation in 2009 that triggered thousands of complaints of its own.

Horton left her Alamance job embroiled in a court dispute. County officials alleged she’d rigged a bid in favor of a Lincolnton appraisal company to help with the 2009 revaluation – without disclosing she’d been on the company’s payroll.

The county also said she authorized paying RS&M Appraisal Services more than double the $275,000 officials agreed to pay for the work.


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Meanwhile in Georgia

A new deal seems to be coming together for $300 million in public money to help the Atlanta Falcons build a new stadium. As the Atlanta Business Chronicle reports:

A revised deal for a new stadium currently is being negotiated whereby the Georgia Legislature would not have to vote on increasing the bonding capacity of Georgia World Congress Center to $300 million.

Currently negotiations are underway at the Governor’s mansion between Gov. Nathan Deal, the Atlanta Falcons and the City of Atlanta where the bonding capacity would shift from the state to the city.

Huge public opposition is again not a barrier to throwing money at professional sports.


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Another reason to question a possible US/AA airline merger

United Airlines, and its poor results after its recent merger with Continental. Flight Global provides some details on United’s current difficulties. The basics:

United reported a $589 million net profit excluding special charges in 2012. With the $1.3 billion in charges, it lost $723 million.

Delta Air Lines reported a $1.6 billion net profit excluding special charges – $1.01 billion with charges – and US Airways a $537 million net profit excluding charges, which jumped a remarkable 400% year-on-year, during the year. American Airlines, which is operating under chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, lost $130 million excluding charges.

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RNC meets in Charlotte

RNC as in Republican National Committee. Bryon York of the Washington Examiner offers up an explanation of what’s going on. A sample:

The bottom line is that RNC members know something is terribly wrong. Some point out that chairman Reince Priebus — who is expected to be re-elected in an uncontested ballot Friday — cannot come before the committee and say, “We were out-spent” or “We couldn’t match the resources of the other side.” The party’s problem is more fundamental than that — simply put, Republicans have either a basic identity problem or an equally basic competence problem — and demands more fundamental answers.

I’d argue for a combination of both factors, but weighted more towards the former than the latter.

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January 2013
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