Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Goldilocks and the Three Fallacies

Please tune in tomorrow morning around 10 AM for a BIG announcement.  Until then, we have a lot to cover.

Charles Wang Media Blitz

Charles Wang has been out and about making his case for the new areener.

Last night, he was on FIOS 1.

This morning, PIX 11.

This afternoon, WFAN with Mike Francesa (though, as one person on Twitter pointed out, he should have ceded his time to let Jay Jacobs keep digging that hole). That audio link is not available yet; please check newyorkislanders.com for it.

Also, please stay tuned Friday as Mr. Wang is scheduled to be on Boomer & Carton in the morning, also on WFAN.

Jay Jacobs Embarrasses Himself Multiple Times

You probably already know that Jay Jacobs, head of the Democratic Party for both Nassau County and New York State, appeared on Mike Francesa this afternoon to voice his opposition to the new arena.  In a 12-minute long interview, Jacobs lied, obstructed, and stumbled his way to something I didn't think was possible.

He managed to take a perfectly reasonable position that people can support (no taxpayer money for a sports arena), in front of a host who has in the past come out dead-set against taxpayer money for sports facilities, and proceed to make a fool of himself.  I won't say anything more because his own words are far more damning.

In addition, Jacobs sent an email to all registered Democrats called "What do you buy for a billionaire?" that was obtained by Let There Be Light(house).  Jacobs continued to bash the plan in this mailer and included a Daily News editorial which bashed the project but said more than it intended to.

From the Daily News (and let's ignore the blatant factual mistakes for now):

The bottom line is that, while on the hook to repay the bonds even if Wang goes bankrupt, and being obligated to pay for heavy upkeep of the building, every taxpayer would have the privilege of spending $20 or so a year in order to enable Wang to enjoy gross annual revenues, by his own calculation, of $229 million. Absurd.
Here's the catch: Under these calculations, 11.5% on $229 million gross revenue would result in revenue-sharing of $26.34 million.....enough to cover the debt service.  Seriously, the Daily News cited numbers that would result in zero net cost to taxpayers to bash this as a bad deal for taxpayers....can't make this up.

The Three Fallacies

The main argument against the economic impact of losing Nassau Coliseum and the New York Islanders is that the numbers are not absolute.  In other words, money not spent on the Coliseum will enter the Nassau economy through other conduits.  It sounds reasonable, right?

Not so fast...

This is an argument based on three key assumptions:

Assumption 1: All attendees at Nassau Coliseum events are from Nassau County.

FALSE.  Even anecdotal evidence suggests that in many cases the majority of attendees to Nassau Coliseum events are from outside Nassau County.  Charles Wang said on Mike Francesa earlier today that only 30-40% of Islanders season ticket holders are residents of Nassau County, and I can't imagine the split is radically different for other events that are held in that arena.  It is simply wrong to assume that everyone who attends a game in Nassau Coliseum is from Nassau County, so it should not be considered sole property of the Nassau County economy.

Assumption 2: Entertainment Budgets Are Fixed.

FALSE. It is wrong to believe that people who hold season tickets for the Islanders or attend concerts at Nassau Coliseum are guaranteed to pay the same amount of money somewhere else in Nassau County if that arena was not there.  This leads me into the next assumption......

Assumption 3: Money not spent at Nassau Coliseum will be spent somewhere else in Nassau County.

FALSE.  This goes back to Assumption 1.  If all attendees at Nassau Coliseum are not from Nassau County, then the money those attendees would have spent in Nassau Coliseum is not guaranteed to be spent in Nassau County. There are 2 perfect quotes to illustrate this:

First, the caller to Mike Francesa who told Charles Wang he was an Islanders season ticket-holder from New Jersey who would have no reason to go to Nassau County if the team was not there.

Second, a brilliant quote Brian Compton from NHL.com said to sum this up: "It's not like 3,000 Canadiens fans will take buses down from Montreal to see a movie in Westbury."

People who attend Nassau Coliseum events are not guaranteed to follow the same spending habits.  I work and spend a lot of time in Manhattan, and if there are no Islanders games to attend I might go to a Broadway show (Book of Mormon was fantastic - I'd see it again) or a nice dinner during Restaurant Week.  I'm not guaranteed to spend money at Nassau Coliseum, and to assume the money spent there is simply "moving money around" from other streams in Nassau County is ludicrous and wrong.

Bottom Line

The intellectual dishonesty and faulty numbers exhibited by referendum opponents has really been something to behold.  Jay Jacobs making a fool of himself on WFAN earlier today did not help their cause, and we now have the ammo to counter these arguments should an opponent try to use them.

Stay tuned tomorrow for that BIG announcement, and look for Dave's "Arguing With An Arena Skeptic" series around Thursday.



  1. Jay Jacob's made a total ass of himself today. the islanders won big today mile is on board and he is the voice in the sports world so hopefully more people are board after listening today go islanders and Vote yes on monday !

  2. Nick,

    The fact in your blog make it seem so simple. I believe I had it summed up in my reply to one of your endorsement for the new arena blog (originally posted in BD Gallof's blog) People can see the events that originally went into the Coliseum in either the Garden, The Prudential Center or some other such venue. Which would have the revenue be anywhere except Nassau county. Why can't the dems see that ?!?!!?

  3. Anon: Some people look for any reason to oppose something. I think Jay Jacobs exposed himself as opposing this for purely partisan reasons.

  4. Sorry nick the anonymous was me

    forgot to sign


  5. And yes...

    He did indeed expose himself. As a professed hater of Francesca being a Mets/Jets fan. I have never appreciated him more in my life


  6. Jacobs is what typifies the problems in Nassau County...He is a disgrace

  7. jacobs is a gigantic douche. His office got bombarded with calls yesterday after his interview on WFAN.

  8. Hi Nick, I think the NY Daily wants the Islanders to move to Queens. That's why they're pissing on the new arena plan to keep the team in Nassau. In every editorial against the new arena they conveniently posted links of Islanders to Queens discussions.


  9. Great article, Nick.

    According to the latest census, there are about 1.5 MILLION residents in *Suffolk County* alone - more than twice the number of people who live in Winnipeg, to cite one example. Were they all driving out to Nassau to go to restaurants or such? Is someone who lives in Riverhead going to traipse out to the Sunrise Mall just for kicks and giggles?

    My family lived in Suffolk County until 1986. We spent a lot of our money locally - shopping at TSS, going to places in the downtown, eating locally on the occasions we ate out. The idea that we or any other hard-working family would drive a half-hour out of our way, each way, to do things we could do at home, is foolish and presumptuous. But if it involved an Islanders game (or maybe a little minor league baseball), then maybe families like ours would make a day of it.