Thursday, September 23, 2010

Putting Hometown Above Dollars

Kudos to Duke University for passing up millions of dollars to keep the Alabama game here in Durham. If local officials are penning thank you notes, that single act of selflessness alone yielded nearly $6 million in spending and nearly $200,000 in local tax revenues, all by out-of-towners. You know, visitors, the purest way to generate economic development!dollar-sign

The two teams that played in Durham last weekend were offered beaucoups bucks to move the game to a so-called neutral site just as the nearby University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill did with its LSU season opener this year.

Duke elected to keep the Alabama game and the dollars here in Durham as well as the State of North Carolina which reaped just as much in tax revenue, maybe more than the City and County of Durham local governments.

To put the Alabama football game in further perspective, it generated an impact larger than is anticipated by the the NHL All-Star Game this winter in nearby Raleigh and didn’t require hundreds of thousands in underwriting incentives. The football game drew even more overnight visitors.

Gosh, maybe RDU should have hastened completion of phase two of the new Terminal 2 for the Duke-Alabama instead instead? Seriously, Durham should never take Duke for granted, just as Duke should never take Durham for granted. It is a two-way street. Oh, be sure to carbon-copy Dr. White, Coach Cut and Dr. Trask on those thank you notes.

Sure Duke has quietly anchored and enabled virtually every one of the mega-developments in Durham. But the impact of this one game alone is significant because overnight visitors generate 10 times the taxable spending of non-residents commuting to work in offices in Durham.

Hats off to Duke University for saying NO to the lure of big bucks to move the game out of Durham and for understanding and respecting that the impact both the university and its hometown mutually experience can be much more than dollars and cents.

Cities with little or no college football began the trend of stealing games away from hometowns in the ‘80s and now they are being joined by cities that have good college programs even though the move cannibalizes needed sponsorship dollars. Huh! - Guess those post season bowl games weren’t enough…so then lets junk them and get on with a playoff system.

By the way, I thought the ESPN announcers did a terrific great job on the Duke-Alabama broadcast, tip-toeing around the name of the jointly owned airport and stumbling only when misled into saying that Duke is 15 miles from Raleigh because that from where the ‘Bama kicker hails. The distance is 31 miles.

Give you odds the misinformation came from someone from Raleigh. The Charlotte Observer sure had our neighboring community’s number when it called it out for obsessively over-reaching in any way it can to steal thunder in other communities.

No comments: