I was accepted to the University of Southern California’s Price School of Public Policy. I was lucky enough to get a Dean’s scholarship and work with a kind man named Richard K. Green, Ph.D. Dr. Green, Director of the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate, hired me to work with him on an amazing research paper. It’s about football stadiums and economic development. It’s also a story with many questions.
I’ll attach it in full, but I appreciate all the comments I’ve been receiving. I’m too behind in comments, so I’m going to add a Facebook plugin at the end of each new article. Hope that helps.
Thanks for reading.
More posts coming soon!
Andy Holder lives one mile at a time, encouraging others to live without limitations, even when faced with a chronic illness.
Andy, his wife Jude, and their two sons Nico and Luca, live just outside Philadelphia. When I catch up with Andy on the phone, he’s putting on Luca’s pads for football practice (Luca plays both quarterback and cornerback). While it seems like a routine daddy-function, a few years ago, Andy wasn’t sure if he would be healthy enough to be the father he wanted to be.
Andy was diagnosed with Type I diabetes at age 36; a disease that is normally diagnosed in children. His body produces no insulin.
Determined to not let the disease stand in the way of living a healthy life, Andy decided to get up and do something. He didn’t own a bike. He didn’t know how to swim. But, Andy, as he describes it, “surveyed the land for the most challenging feat that he could find.”
He found the longest and most intense triathlon in the world: Ironman.
Ironman triathlons consist of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and 26.2-mile run.
The disease can be managed. Or it can be debilitating. He said: “Once your body stops producing insulin, you get really sick.” His goal was to be healthy for his children, and to show others it could be done.
The reality is, that it has reshaped his entire life.
Andy grew up in Long Island, in Levittown, the original one (Levittowns are described in urban planning history as the model for suburban pre-fabricated neighborhoods). He left Long Island for college and visits occasionally.
He walked on the football team at the University of New Hampshire, but transferred to Syracuse his sophomore year to wrestle. In his words, he “took full advantage of the college party,” while only minimally applying himself to a degree in psychology.
“Have you ever seen the movie ‘Boiler Room’?” he asks. That’s what his life became after college. Despite a lack of finance knowledge, Andy’s career strung together a web of highly speculative stockbroker jobs. Among them: Charles Schwab, where he worked when he met his wife.
When diagnosed, Andy quit his job and created the Iron Andy Foundation.
“I try to inspire from a distance,” said Andy. Perhaps he intended the pun. Andy has competitively swam, biked, and run more than 2,072 miles; that’s quite a distance (nearly the distance between NYC and L.A.). And, that’s not including training miles. He has completed eight full Ironman triathlons, twelve half Ironman and four marathons.
Imagine a 140.6-mile race. Now imagine doing that with diabetes. Andy completed his first full Ironman triathlon at Lake Placid, N.Y. in 13 hours and 39 minutes. During the course of that grueling day, he checked his blood sugar levels over 20 times. He finished –and has done so many more times since.
He speaks publicly nationwide, spreading the message to others at national conferences and expos.
Andy is a inspiration to endurance athletes, people living with diabetes, and to all of us.
The Iron Andy Foundation underwrites scholarships, for kids living with diabetes so they can attend summer camps throughout the country. “There is one week out of the year where I can just be me” said Shamus Hall, a 12-year old recipient of an IAF “campership.” That’s Andy Holder’s goal in raising awareness and money: to give kids a week out of the year where they “don’t have to think about diabetes 24/7.” The camps, most of them, incorporate sports fitness into the programming. Andy continues to inspire others to live beyond boundaries: to mentally and physically challenge themselves beyond the disease.
This is a fun segment created by Atif Hashwi and I. It aired on Platforum Sports, Monday, November 5th, on Trojan Vision in Los Angeles.
By Paige Battcher and Richard Green, Director, USC Lusk Center for Real Estate
City leaders seem to think stadia promote economic development: despite expert testimony to the contrary. Why are they so misguided? Maybe they want to be. After all, people love football in this country. And stadia are huge projects that draw lots of media attention.
City leaders justify stadia as job creators; and so they are willing to pay public money for them. Research shows, however, that stadia create few permanent jobs. There are construction jobs, but most other employment is of limited quality and quantity. City leaders also justify stadia as revenue-generators: including sales and hotel taxes. Research shows stadia generate “replacement economics.” Families will replace a trip to the movies with NFL tickets; they will not use disposable income for both. This is not economic growth. It is revenue cannibalized from other parts of the city.
Stadia in the absence of subsidies are fine; but subsidies are the problem.
Subsidies flow to wealthy owners and high-income football players, but not to typical taxpayers. Your average taxpayer can barely afford to enjoy the stadium for which their money subsidizes. Consider this: a family of four need somewhere between $400-600 to enjoy an NFL game and a few hotdogs. Should a portion of their income also pay for the stadium?
AEG proposes to build Farmers Field in downtown Los Angeles. Majestic Realty proposes the other option: Football Stadium at Grand Crossing, in the City of Industry. Both proposals claim 100% private financing, but this is simply not true. AEG needs the City to provide bond guarantees and offsite infrastructure. Majestic needs public funding for traffic mitigation. These are subsidies. Yes, L.A. wants an NFL team, but private developers and the handful of owners who will profit, should pay.
By: Paige Battcher
University of Southern California
Masters of Urban Planning
So, how do countries and cities pay for these events? The common go-to answer is public-private partnerships. Although, some contend that even in pursuit of PPPs, there are too few cases where these provide sustainable funding solutions for mega-event development initiatives (Varrel and Kennedy, 2011). It is vital to remember that although mega-projects aim to stimulate medium to longterm private investment, these projects are typically a huge investment by the public sector. Furthermore, inherently these projects are more expensive (and some would argue less innovative) in the run up to a mega-event than would otherwise be the case. Take South Africa for instance, in preparation for the 2010 World Cup. The country experienced a shortage of skilled labor, construction materials rapidly rose in price due to unprecedented demand (only to fall again after the World Cup), and the time crunch made overspending an inevitable reality (Pillay et al., 2009).
Time and time again, newspaper articles hail the potential economic windfall that a host city will benefit during the bidding process for a mega-event. Time and time again —almost predictably so —the ‘windfall’ will have been highly overestimated, and although some industries may benefit (namely tourism), these benefits are significantly short-lived and the ‘multiplier effects’ intended to boost the economy in its entirety are rarely realized. In the same light, mega-events are seen by local businesses as a catalyst of economic ingenuity and growth; so whether outcomes merit the expectation or not, the mega-event acts as a catalyst to hope.
There are lessons to be gleaned from these trends. First of all, the onslaught of public pride surrounding most of these events is undeniable. The most successful cities have done well to capture this intangible benefit and momentum of civic pride. In 1994 leading up to the Sydney bid for the 2000 Olympics, New South Wales Premier, Nick Gieiner called a meeting of top media executives and asked for favoritism over sensationalism in their coverage of the bid, before even considering such a commitment of tax-payers funds. This wielded the “creation of a community of interest” that successfully spread positive feelings about the Games, which are claimed to have fueled private investments and the subsequent success of development projects and a successful Olympics (Varrel & Kennedy, 2011).
A host city should help amplify ambition of local entrepreneurs who are optimistic about possibilities a mega-event might bring to their businesses. Cities should solicit from within and give local business owners a stake in re-forming streets, in funding new real estate, and in re-thinking their roles in their surrounding communities. In fact, the microeconomic decisions of mega-event planning can shape future generations and may be more important in some cases than the 16 day event itself (or however many days).
Finally, in terms of financial interests, governments must work smarter to gain private partnerships. To strengthen private sector responsibility, overly concessionary projects should be avoided. Developers should not need heavy subsidy to consider investing in a time period of rapid growth for the city. The partnership should be a win-win. Rather, “performance-based projects” should be the focus (Flyvberg et al. 2003). During a period of great opportunity, smart decisions must be made; for the common tax payer is most at risk otherwise. Free handouts of public money should not be the answer. In 2007, Brazil’s federal government with the State and City of Rio de Janeiro spent a whopping $1.12 billion to host Pan American Games. Of the City’s expenditures, US$606 million, nearly 11% of those expenses where spent on two (2) public-private partnerships which rounded out to nearly the same amount spent on ‘urban infrastructure’ (15.8%). These expenditures did not represent private investment, they signified that PPPs appear to have cost the municipality an unfavorable proportion of the city’s total expenses in return for an extremely limited private investment in the future of Rio (Acioly Jr., 2001). Imagine that for a tiny fraction of the investment in these two mega PPPs, city management could claim partnership with dozens of local entreprenuers who expanded their business, invested in street cleanups, built new housing, started a community group, and invested in a stadium project (as micro investors).
Beyond the negative aspects, there are lessons to be learned. Despite the most adamant critics, athletic events have a natural capacity to stimulate civic pride. And, the legacies that mega-events leave behind are far greater than the event that takes place (Hall, 2006). “A stadium filled with thousands (joined by thousands more at home before the TV) screaming for Cleveland or Baltimore (or whatever) is a scene difficult to fashion otherwise. This enthusiasm can be drawn upon…in order to gain general acceptance for local growth-oriented programs” (Molotch, 1976). As a final remark, let the lessons of past events help cities draw upon the enthusiasm of today to attract local investment, civic participation and purposeful planning for generations to come.
Acioly Jr., C. (2001). Reviewing urban revitalization strategies in Rio de Janeiro: From urban project to urban management approaches. Geoforum , 32, 509-520.
Essex, S., & Chalkley, B. (1998). Olympic Games: catalyst of urban change. Leisure Studies , 187-206.
Flyvbjerg, B., Bruzelius, N., & Rothengatter, W. (2003). Megaprojects and risk: an anatomy of ambition. United Kingdom; New York: Cambridge University Press.
Hall, M. C. (2006). Urban entrepreneurship, corporate interests and sports mega-events: the thin policies of competitiveness within the hard outcomes of neoliberalism. Sociological Review .
Molotch, H. (1976) ‘The city as a growth machine: Towards a political economy of place’, American Journal of Sociology 82 (2): 309–332.
Pillay, U., Tomlinson, R., & Bass, O. (2009). Development and Dreams The Urban Legacy of the 2010 Football World Cup. Cape Town, South Africa: Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) Press.
Shoval, N. (2002). A New Phase in the Competition for Olympic Gold: The London and New York Bids for the 2012 Games. Journal of Urban Affairs , 24 (5), 583-599.
Varrel, A. and Kennedy, L. (2011), “Mega-events and megaprojects,” Chance 2 Sustain.
Saturday, February 18 marked the close of the 5th IOC Women and Sport World Conference. To say the very least: IT ROCKED! To say more: it was inspirational, powerful, and an exceptional conference. Days later, I am still covered in goosebumps realizing how incredible it was to be surrounded by diplomats, international foundation presidents, olympic gold medalists, national sportscasters and some of the most impressive women leaders in our world’s history. The conference highlighted the growing leadership of women on and off the playing field. We heard stories of women who struggled just for the right to play sports and for the freedom to make a career in a man’s world. Many women fought hard for the rights that we have today; to never second-guess our ability and rights to play sports and lead with integrity. I thank them for their bravery and ambition. I live through their honor having played EIGHT sports competively in my lifetime thus far.
In the London Olympic Games this summer, for the first time in Olympic history ALL sports will see the competition of both men and women. In fact, somewhere close to 45% of athletes competing this summer will be female. This is good right? Yep, but it needs to be 50%. It has been a long time coming, yet we still have more work to do.
In the “Women, Sport and Media” session, we were motivated by such outstanding females as Christine Brennan (USA Today, ABC News, CNN, NPR…this woman covers it al!) and Molly Solomon (Ms. boss-lady at NBC Universal, head producer of Olympic coverage). Ms. Solomon shared that the industry is still a man’s territory in terms of top executives, but that the number of exceptionally talented women ‘poised in middle-management’ will soon lead to a great revolution. The discussion of women both on and off the camera was riveting.
I particularly enjoyed Molly Solomon’s insight that storytelling is where the industry is headed; she shared a short video story of Cathy Freeman and her rise from a marginalized Aboriginal heritage to Australia’s champion as a gold medalist in track and field. According to Solomon, she says “we need to present the Olympics in distintive ways, because the Olympics is about more than sports” (quoted during presentation, Feb. 18, 2012). That’s right.
I am more enthusiastic than ever that I can create short film –in a storytelling fashion –that will be useful to promoting the Olympic movement, Olympic athletes, citizens of host cities, and people all around the globe.
Two final thoughts…
1. Women and Girls have every inate human right that men and boys have. So, give it your all! Be courageous, kind, and be a leader!
2. To both the women and men headed to London this summer, I’ll be cheering for you.
GO TEAM USA!
Under the most incredible circumstances of fate, I am honored to be at the IOC World Women and Sport Conference.
I am celebrating the 40th birthday of Title IX among the most accomplished and fascinating people in international women’s sports. Title IX was a powerful piece of US legislation calling for equality in sport –the direct reason why I had the immense opportunity to be an NCAA athlete in Rowing at the University of Louisville.
I’ve heard from so many powerful speakers today and have met so many exceptional people thus far –including Olympic gold medalist!
Ms. Ann Stock of the Department of State, Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs, led a powerful presentation of the vision of our nation to connect people worldwide through peace, equality, and sports. I believe whole-heartedly in their mission of “smart power” and as a Fulbright Alumni Ambassador, I bare proof that one-by-one we can bridge mutual culture understanding globally through programs like the ones supported through the State Department.
Inspiration is everywhere at this conference. It’s clear that women in sports create leadership. And as Roland Rich, director of the UN Democracy Fund, pointed out “we need to change the patriarchal nature of politics” (Conference presentation, Feb. 17, 2012). And, in doing so (especially through sports and civic empowerment) this femininity can bring less conflict, more listening and more creative political discussions in countries far and wide.
The exceptional message here at the 5th Annual IOC Women in Sport Conference in Los Angeles is: sports are a legacy for peace and understanding, and the progress of women in sports is a testament to modernity and hope.
- Dirty Tease (Angi and Alis, your support was inspiring, your friendship lasting),
- Parkside Bicycle Boutique (Lance and Ben, thanks from the bottom of my heart),
- V02 Multisport (Rick and Jeff, you guys helped me cycle hard and I thank you dearly),
- 732 Social (Jayson, your mentorship and encouragement was invaluable),
- mperfect designs (Jason, you made Team Grace shine), and
- An.Automaton Designs (Samuel, my brother, you are the glue that holds it all together, I love you and your talents).
Thank you to the tons of you who believed in me and the mission of Team Grace enough to contribute. And, thank you to my sister Grace, whom I will always look up to. Grace, so you were born with a life-threatening heart defect, but after four surgeries in 16 years I see that your heart is a role model for my own; strong, resiliant, courageous, creative and compassionate. Grace, you are my hero more than you know.
PICTURES OF THE EVENT
(Click below, then on “Slideshow” top left.)
(This video was played at the Lousiville IronMan closing Awards Ceremony –they interviewed a few athletes before the event…I made the final cut!) click here
(The Courier Journal, Louisville)