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A Spending Plan that Deserves Five and the Game

by on November 30, 2009

Everyone loves hockey.  It’s the greatest thing ever, duh, much less sport.  Enough Upstate New York residents share this indisputable sentiment that there should be no problem uncovering ample private capital for the first ever outdoor American Hockey League contest.  Unfortunately, the state government is nonetheless helping stage the Syracuse Crunch’s game at the State Fairgrounds on February 20. This is, after all, New York, where some people’s fun is habitually subsidized by all.

The first sign of trouble at the press conference about the minor league fixture came in the form of the specific politician who edged in to grab credit.  But at least New York’s senior senator outed himself as a hockey-film poseur in doing so:

“As they said in Slapshot, which was filmed in Syracuse, how about that old-time hockey,” said U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, a key figure in making the game happen and a guest at Tuesday’s announcement. “This is my dream here, that this could be a national event focused on Upstate and Central New York.”

It’s a serious matter to accuse an officeholder of purposeful dishonesty.  So here goes: U.S. Senator Charles Schumer has never seen Slap Shot, evidenced by 1) his mangling of the film quote and 2) the fact that he is Charles Schumer.  He’d be more likely to speak at a Tea Party than correctly identify Denis Lemieux.  Schumer doesn’t know from which city Billy Charlebois hails, the truth about Hanrahan’s wife, or the Chiefs from his own hide.  That’s what you’re paid for, Braden!

But Schumer reading a speech written by one of his underlings who’s hazily familiar with the greatest movie ever isn’t the worst penalty being committed here.  The misconduct comes in the form of uncontested stenography by the alleged reporter covering the story when it comes to the event’s economic value:

The game is estimated to bring in 2,800 overnight guests and pump $1 million into the local economy.

The million-dollar promise might sucker those who think the government that brought us the Post Office will cut health care costs while simultaneously providing all with insurance. Everyone else should exercise skepticism.

Specifically, nothing adds up properly.  If the outdoor game is a lock to bring income into the area, it should be easy to cover the entire game’s cost.  Yet ad-buying companies are only fronting about $350,000, while the team is forking over “as much as $550,000.”  That may leave them short.  But we live in a state that will cover virtually anyone who can’t quite pay the bills:

Gov. David Paterson helped secure a $75,000 grant from the Empire State Development Corp., and also cleared the way for the Crunch to use the Fairgrounds without paying a user fee.

That sounds like a great state investment: just ask anyone who’s manning a position created by the stimulus once you find him or her. The inopportune reality is that governmentally-redistributed income inevitably becomes wasted money.  But that won’t discourage those who think elected officials can provoke economic progress.

Big-spending admirers would assert that 75,000 measly dollars and a waived fee is ultimately no big deal.  But that reasoning ignores that this is merely one of an endless quantity of porky schemes bankrolled by New York’s workers.  The same Keynesian-minded busybodies will never understand why this state is such a deadbeat.

There’s a market for an outdoor contest, meaning investors in same market can raise money and attempt to profit on their own.  Albany should let those involved with this event pony up the initial costs, whether it’s the Crunch, the AHL, or the Central New York businesses that will benefit doing all the paying.

Concurrently, people should spend their own money on their own leisure.  The only thing worse than central planning and spending is planning and spending on sports.  Fans and franchises should interact and take care of all related expenses.  As it stands, Albany is forcing the public to fund a recreational endeavor that at best benefits one New York city’s restaurants and hotels for a single 24-hour stint.

This isn’t to hassle Syracuse: taxpayers involuntarily backing athletics is a statewide problem.  After all, Erie County residents support the Bills monetarily whether they like it or not. And Buffalonians are still waiting for business to crop up around the publicly-financed Pilot North AmeriCare Dunn Tire Coca-Cola Field.Maybe the rush of stores and restaurants will happen over the next 20 or so years.

In the meantime, hockey doesn’t need Albany’s help.  And in case anyone could have possibly forgotten,another team already staged an outdoor game in Upstate New York. It’ll be fun to see the Crunch try to top Ronan Tynan.

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One Comment
  1. Okay, I had a feeling this wasn’t going to be worth much judging by this sentence: “It’s the greatest thing ever, duh, much less sport.” Grammatically that doesn’t even make sense, so I pretty much knew what I was dealing with before I got into this. However, I kept reading in the hopes something would ring true. Alas, nothing.

    What I find really entertaining is that you’re complaining about the use of “public funds” to sponsor an outdoor hockey game when the only public funds I read about in your whole argument was the $75,000. Everything else–by your own admission, no less–is privately funded. Take that $75,000 away and the game would still go on. It wouldn’t have made that much of a difference, but it was nice of the government to show confidence and solidarity in a mission that might not benefit the Syracuse Crunch at all (other than getting the free publicity from “writers” like you complaining about it).

    Last time I checked in with the situation NY is in, sports teams were pretty low on the list in terms of what is causing problems. How about the money being wasted by our elected officials on both sides, day after day, in sessions that aren’t making a difference because they refuse to compromise? What about that issue? I would also think pork barrel spending, the ridiculous DESTINY albatross, almost all of NYC, and about a thousand other things would be up higher.

    So let’s call a spade a spade here: all you’re doing is using the outdoor hockey platform as an excuse to dump all over Patterson and Schumer. You wanna do that, hey, go right ahead. I’m guessing you don’t really need an excuse. It just looks pretty on paper to make a big stink about something like this. But leave my team out of it.

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