Sports saves or sinks?

Reporter Dan Abendschein has an interesting story in today’s paper about the benefits of sports industry to the local economy.

Depending on who you talk to, that industry can either boost local economy or simply do nothing at all.

Of course, the local tie is developer Ed Roski’s bid to build an $800 million NFL stadium in Industry.

What side are you on?

Sports in the greater Los Angeles region is a $2.1 billion industry, according to a study released by sports promoters Wednesday.

That $2 billion industry employs about 3,385 people in full-time jobs, according to the study. That’s less than the 4,500 employed by the county’s mining industry, according to Jack Kyser, the chief economist of the Los Angeles Economic Development Commission.

“Those are very small employment numbers,” said Kyser.

The study, conducted by UCLA graduate students, looks at professional sports, college sports, horse racing and other annual sporting events in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

“This is one of the strongest sports markets in the country, and the study shows what kind of an impact it has on the local economy,” said David Simon, president of the L.A. Sports Council.

(…)

The impact of sports on a local economy is a subject that has long been under debate. Developers and sports team owners, eager to capitalize on public funds, have long touted the benefits of the sports economy.

Economists have been split on the issue: most agree that building a new stadium where one has already existed does not help the economy.

A 2004 study by economists Edward Coulson and Gerald Carlino suggested a new stadium brings benefits to a neighborhood, by raising local property values and bringing in customers to local restaurants and businesses.

The question for cities is whether it pays for the government to invest in sports.

Read the full story here.