TAMPA BAY, Florida – Sports reporters and government watchdogs across the U.S. and Canada took note of 10Investigates’ report on the questionable practices of a leading economic consultant – and the impact his work may be having on local beach funding.
Deadspin summarized the investigation as, “Florida's Go-To Stadium Economist Is A Hack, A Shill, And Also Not An Economist”:
How can the city, state, and county justify spending over $60 million on a spring training facility? According to an economic impact study written by (FSU Professor Mark) Bonn, the Blue Jays create a $70.6 million economic impact annually. Bonn arrived at that number through some absolutely insane assumptions. He assumes that each and every fan at a Blue Jays spring training game is unique—that no fan attends more than one game—and that every single fan is traveling from outside the county—that no locals attend even one spring training game.
If Bonn’s studies don’t sound very economically robust, perhaps it is because Bonn isn’t actually an economist! He is a professor at FSU’s school of hospitality, where he teaches marketing and wine-tasting, and his degree is in resource development.
Deadspin also opined, "the larger context here is that Florida politicians are insane," referencing stats from the 10Investigates report that showed how far sporting events trailed beaches in terms of tourist draws. Yet, the state spends nearly as much money each year on pro stadiums as they do on beach maintenance - and many counties spend more on sports.
The Toronto Star wrote about the investigation too, getting a reaction from Dr. Bonn:
“I told (the reporter) I’m not an economist, and I never said I was,” Bonn said in a phone interview Monday. “(The reporter) can go jump in a lake, as far as I’m concerned.”