Shocker: Those Who Would Benefit from Albuquerque Arena Think it is Viable

In what has to be considered the least surprising news story of the day, one of the myriad studies from consultants hired to sell er…study the downtown arena has been released. The study, done by a firm called Conventions, Sports, and Leisure, found that the market characteristics for the proposed $400 million arena are “very favorable.” I did some googling on this firm and (not surprisingly) found that they are a rubber stamp or cheerleader for taxpayer-financed development.
By no means are they an objective source of information. Check out this report on the proposed Durango convention center. Among other red herrings and factual mis-steps the document states that “the overall convention and trade show industry reflects stability and annual growth.” This is simply not accurate. As this study from the Brookings Institute points out “The overall convention marketplace is declining in a manner that suggests that a recovery or turnaround is unlikely to yield much increased business for any given community, contrary to repeated industry projections.” Conventions, Sports, and Leisure is papering over this inconvenient truth.
The Albuquerque study, the executive summary of which can be found here has its share of red herrings as well. My favorite is that the proposed event center’s location near the Rail Runner station would help make it a success. Downtown Albuquerque is such a night spot that according to the schedule available on the Rail Runner website there are no evening Rail Runner trains currently in operation. In fact, the last trains leave at 6:30pm.
Since most sporting events don’t start until 7pm or 7:30, this will have to change. One way or the other, taxpayers will be footing the bill both for the events center and for the Rail Runner to run late into the night. Of course, since the trains only run at one-hour intervals, if you miss your train, you’ll have plenty of time to hang out. The whole thing is a boondoggle on top of another boondoggle!