Hoping for a playoff payoff

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Archives - April 2009
Wednesday, April 01, 2009

BrandonRoy If the Trailblazers make the playoffs, each game could bring $3 million to Portland’s economy.

PHOTO COURTESY OF THE PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS

PORTLAND If the Portland Trailblazers manage to make the playoffs this season the economic impact of the games may be reason to cheer even if you aren’t a fan.

For each additional playoff game the Blazers play in Portland, up to $3 million could come into the local economy, says Robert Whelan, an economist at the Eugene-based consulting firm ECONorthwest. Much of the money, which would be spent on things such as game tickets, advertising and in pubs, is a source of revenue that supports jobs, he says.

The extra income is short-lived, but “it gets people out of their homes and spending money,” says Whelan. “During a bad recession the value of entertainment increases. People are looking for an escape.”

The Trailblazers have sold out more than 60 consecutive home games, stretching from the final 27 games last season.

Depending on the event, sometimes the perceived benefits don’t add up to much and sometimes they do, experts say.

The Davis Cup, the annual professional tennis tournament, was held in Portland in 2007 and netted the local economy approximately $7 million in direct spending by tourists and media, according to the Oregon Sports Authority, the state’s sports economic development arm that lobbied for the event.

Lane County tourist and commerce observers say the U.S. Track and Field Olympic Trials held in Eugene last year attracted about 75,000 visitors who spent $28 million at local restaurants, hotels and other businesses.

But if the Blazers make the playoffs, the benefits of a spike in increased spending might just be a wash. That consumer spending may just be a redistribution of money that would have been spent anyway, says Paul Swangard, managing director of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon. “How much of it is really new dollars?” he wonders.

Even so, if the Blazers make the playoffs the most valuable economic benefits are likely the intangible ones, such as a renewed sense of optimism during tough times.

“It’s the little, subtle things that change the whole demeanor of the city,” says Drew Mahalic, CEO of the Sports Authority.

JASON SHUFFLER

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Editor's Letter: Power Play

January-Powerbook 2015
Thursday, December 11, 2014

There’s a fascinating article in the December issue of the Harvard Business Review about a profound power shift taking place in business and society. It’s a long read, but the gist revolves around the tension between “old power” and “new power” as a driver of transformation. Here’s an excerpt:

Old power works like a currency. It is held by few. Once gained, it is jealously guarded, and the powerful have a substantial store of it to spend. It is closed, inaccessible, and leader-driven. It downloads, and it captures.

New power operates differently, like a current. It is made by many. It is open, participatory, and peer-driven. It uploads, and it distributes. Like water or electricity, it’s most forceful when it surges. The goal with new power is not to hoard it but to channel it.

The authors, Henry Timms and Jeremy Heimans, don’t necessarily favor one form of power over another but merely outline how power is transitioning, and how companies can take advantage of these changes to strengthen their positions in the marketplace. 

Our Powerbook issue might be viewed as a case study in the new-power transition. This annual book of lists provides information on leading businesses, nonprofits and universities in the state. Most of the featured companies are entrenched power players now pursuing more flexible and less hierarchical approaches to doing business. Law firms, for example, are adopting new technologies and fee structures to make legal services more accessible and affordable.

This month we also take a look at a controversial new U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rule requiring public companies to disclose the median pay of workers, as well as the ratio between CEO and median-worker pay. 

Part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, the rule will compel public companies to be more open about employee compensation, with the assumption that greater transparency will improve corporate performance and, perhaps, help address one of the major challenges of our time: income inequality.

New power is not only about strategy and tactics, the Harvard Business Review authors say. “The ultimate questions are ethical. The big question is whether new power can genuinely serve the common good and confront society’s most intractable problems.”

That sounds like a call to arms. Or a New Year’s resolution. Old power or new, the goals are the same: to be a force for positive change in the world. Happy 2015!

— Linda


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