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PolitiFact: Jobs coming with football playoffs in Tampa overstated

Ken Hagan, who worked on Tampa’s bid, predicts 1,700 to 1,800 added jobs.

Ken Hagan, who worked on Tampa’s bid, predicts 1,700 to 1,800 added jobs.

Hillsborough County boosters and politicians were ecstatic last week when organizers chose Tampa to host the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship game.

County Commissioner Ken Hagan, who helped develop the city's bid, told a reporter he thought the game would bring an economic impact "in the range" of the Super Bowl, and had read studies that reflected the game could bring 1,700 to 1,800 full-time jobs to the area.

"I've attended four national championship games in three different cities, and the energy and excitement surrounding this game is not dissimilar to the Super Bowl," Hagan said.

How can a single game — to be played at Raymond James Stadium on Jan. 9, 2017 — possibly create that many jobs?

Hagan said he had "skimmed" two reports as the basis for those numbers. One was a South Florida Business Journal story about the impact of the 2012-13 Orange Bowl Festival, which included the Orange Bowl and the BCS National Championship game.

The article reported on a study by Conventions Sports & Leisure International that said the games supported 2,400 new full- and part-time jobs, but no specifics beyond that.

The second report was by Arizona State University's W.P. Carey School of Business on three bowl games in 2010-2011. It measured the statewide effects of the Insight Bowl in Tempe and the Fiesta Bowl and BCS National Championship game in Glendale, collectively referred to as the Festival of College Football. The study measured jobs in terms of "labor demand" — an equivalency for number of worker hours generated.

Broken down by event, the BCS National Championship game created the equivalent of 1,919 full-time jobs in Arizona; the Fiesta Bowl produced the equivalent of 469 full-time jobs; and the Insight Bowl added the equivalent of 855 jobs, the ASU study concluded. That doesn't necessarily mean these are full-time new jobs, but we'll get to more on that in a moment.

In an interview, Hagan said he had been asked the question about jobs and gave an answer he felt the studies reflected, specifically citing the Arizona State report that said the BCS Championship game created 1,919 jobs.

"I don't know how they came up with it," Hagan said. "It sounds kind of high to me."

It is, said Georgia State University economics professor Bruce Seaman, who wrote a study about the potential impact of a new stadium for the NFL's Atlanta Falcons.

"This is grossly overoptimistic verging on the absurd, and yes, it is probably relating to full-time equivalent jobs, but still this is highly unlikely," he said.

So what is the measure of "full-time equivalent" employment?

The statistic is typically used in economic impact studies, defined as the annual average of monthly jobs in an industry. These can be broken down into fractions of an annual full-time job for the sake of measurement — it can be recorded as one job for 12 months, or two jobs for six months each, or three jobs for four months and so on. A job can be either full time or part time, and full time can be defined to be as few as 30 hours a week, Seaman said.

So when the reports talk about jobs, they're not always talking about creating jobs, even though the language they use sounds like it.

The important thing to note is that these jobs aren't limited to workers at the stadium, like ticket takers or security personnel. They can be indirect jobs created as money circulates through the local economy.

Seaman said a more realistic, albeit rough estimate for potential jobs created for a metro area during an event like the championship game would probably be more in the range of 850 to 1,050, not 1,700 to 1,800.

A comparable event would be the NFL's Super Bowl, which also rotates host cities. A 2004 study co-authored by College of the Holy Cross economics professor Victor Matheson examined the effects of Super Bowls on host communities from 1970 to 1997. It found the games brought an equivalent average of 537 jobs.

"Nineteen hundred jobs is a crazy number for a one-day event," Matheson said, pointing out an entire NFL team with eight home games a year generates only a few hundred full-time equivalent jobs.

University of South Florida economics professor Philip Porter said he believes economic impact reports tend to be flawed in any event, because statistical models are designed to measure permanent changes, not necessarily one-time events.

Porter worked on a 1999 study tracking economic impact in Hillsborough County, Miami-Dade County and Maricopa County, Ariz., for Super Bowls, but found no marked increase in taxable sales during the event or afterward. Porter said he predicted activity in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties "will be no different than usual."

We rate this statement Mostly False.

Edited for print. Read the full version at PolitiFact.com/Florida.

The statement

Studies suggest the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship game will bring about 1,700 to 1,800 full-time jobs.

Ken Hagan, Hillsborough County commissioner, Dec. 16 in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times

The ruling

Politifact ruling: Mostly False
The reports were loaded with numbers in the range that Hagan cited, but economists say those figures tend to be grossly inflated, and are difficult to parse, especially when the determining factors aren't well-defined. We rate this statement Mostly False.

PolitiFact: Jobs coming with football playoffs in Tampa overstated 12/22/13 [Last modified: Sunday, December 22, 2013 7:35pm]

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