Monday, July 29, 2013

These dollars make no sense to me

I've worked in sports off and on for almost 30 years but I have absolutely no idea how sports finance works. That should come as no surprise since I have no idea how real finance works (often have been the times when I've paid for something with my debit card and felt like I was squeezing the trigger in the third round of a game of Russian Roulette) but in sports, where numbers just seem to appear to people in visions of flaming pies, I have no chance of comprehending what's going on.

The latest bit of financial news to come out of the world of sports that made me cock my head to the side like a dog hearing Yoko Ono for the first time was the announcement that the state of Michigan, my old home, is going to make up to $450 million dollars in taxpayer money available to build a new arena for the Detroit Red Wings. The main reason I was confused was I had just read this list of facts I came across the day before at The Economic Collapse blog:
1) At this point, the city of Detroit owes money to more than 100,000 creditors.
2) Detroit is facing $20 billion in debt and unfunded liabilities.  That breaks down to more than $25,000 per resident.
3) Back in 1960, the city of Detroit actually had the highest per-capita income in the entire nation.
4) In 1950, there were about 296,000 manufacturing jobs in Detroit.  Today, there are less than 27,000.
5) Between December 2000 and December 2010, 48 percent of the manufacturing jobs in the state of Michigan were lost.
6) There are lots of houses available for sale in Detroit right now for $500 or less.
7) At this point, there are approximately 78,000 abandoned homes in the city.
8) About one-third of Detroit's 140 square miles is either vacant or derelict.
9) An astounding 47 percent of the residents of the city of Detroit are functionally illiterate.
10) Less than half of the residents of Detroit over the age of 16 are working at this point.
11) If you can believe it, 60 percent of all children in the city of Detroit are living in poverty.
12) Detroit was once the fourth-largest city in the United States, but over the past 60 years the population of Detroit has fallen by 63 percent.
13) The city of Detroit is now very heavily dependent on the tax revenue it pulls in from the casinos in the city.  Right now, Detroit is bringing in about 11 million dollars a month in tax revenue from the casinos.
14) There are 70 "Superfund" hazardous waste sites in Detroit.
15) 40 percent of the street lights do not work.
16) Only about a third of the ambulances are running.
17) Some ambulances in the city of Detroit have been used for so long that they have more than 250,000 miles on them.
18) Two-thirds of the parks in the city of Detroit have been permanently closed down since 2008.
19) The size of the police force in Detroit has been cut by about 40 percent over the past decade.
20) When you call the police in Detroit, it takes them an average of 58 minutes to respond.
21) Due to budget cutbacks, most police stations in Detroit are now closed to the public for 16 hours a day.
22) The violent crime rate in Detroit is five times higher than the national average.
23) The murder rate in Detroit is 11 times higher than it is in New York City.
24) Today, police solve less than 10 percent of the crimes that are committed in Detroit.
25) Crime has gotten so bad in Detroit that even the police are telling people to "enter Detroit at your own risk".
Now, I can do the basic four math functions (add, subtract, multiply and divide) so maybe I need algebra or calculus to answer the question I'm left with after processing this information:
How many illiterate people still hanging around and raising children in poverty are willing to venture out after dark into the city streets where they can expect to wait almost an hour if they're a victim of a crime, followed -maybe- by a ride in an antique ambulance, will fill the seats at 41 Red Wings home games (not counting playoffs) every year?
By the way, I'm from Benton Harbor, where Main Street has looked like this since the 1970s
We never had any professsional sports franchises though.

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