The fallacy of the economic impact of events like this
Boosters always pitch these events as surefire economic boons. Just think, they say, of all the money that'll be spent. The problem is studies always show those figures are at the very least exaggerations. "They're good at adding and multiplying," Holy Cross economist Victor Matheson told USA Today, "not so good at subtraction and division." Big events might bring in big money for somebody -- but seldom too many locals. Visitors show up. Regulars disappear. It's a wash at best. Tampa's hosted four Super Bowls, and "I've never seen the economic impact from the Super Bowls that was touted," former mayor Sandy Freedman told me earlier this summer. "Talk to the restaurants, to the cab drivers, and they don't see it, either."
The Times recently sent surveys to several hundred vendors on the convention's approved vendors list. Out of some 60 respondents, 57 percent said they do not expect any increased revenue from the convention, and an additional 10 percent were unsure. Out of those expecting a financial boost, 44 percent predicted the increase would be small.
"The girls are frustrated," said Jill, who declined to give her last name. "When you come to Tampa, everyone knows the Mons Venus is the No. 1 strip club. So where is everyone? What is everyone doing? Are they sleeping? Republicans have money."
Early this evening, in the hours leading up to the kickoff party at the Trop, St. Pete's Robert Neff tweeted that he was hearing about "sloooow traffic and sales" for the city's businesses and restaurants. Times food critic Laura Reiley said Fergs and Taps & Tequila on Central were "dead." I saw the same thing. Not just not busy. Slower than even a typical Sunday in the summer.