Berkeley Magazine, Fall 1998


It isn't every day that the San Jose Sharks, the San Diego Chargers and other professional sports franchises want a word with Berkeley researchers.

But when a new report from the Department of City & Regional Planning warned that sports teams don't add much to local city coffers -- or at least to money flowing through a city's economy -- the phone rang off the hook for researcher Jack Sylvan.

Sylvan found that sports teams have not produced hoped-for economic benefits in seven California cities including Anaheim, Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, San Diego, San Jose and San Francisco.

After looking at retail and total taxable sales for the years before and after pro sports teams moved into these cities, he found no significant differences related to the teams' presence.

Organizations ranging from the Golden State Warriors to the San Jose Sports Authority were unhappy. "The people who you would expect to disagree with my findings did," said Sylvan.

Sylvan is now in Spain studying the financial impact of the Barcelona Olympics on less well-off neighborhoods nearby. If he finds that, for those folks, the economic draw of the Olympic torch doesn't match the hype, don't call; Sylvan can be reached only by e-mail.

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