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DATE News (chronologically)
02/21/07
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San Jose GP attendance overstated UPDATE There's some good news for the San Jose City Council as it sits down this week for its first hard look at the 2007-2008 budget. The local business climate has steadily improved, and with it the sales tax revenue that tanked after the dot-com crash six years ago.

Now the bad news: New accounting rules, a contaminated park and mounting problems from hiring freezes, service cutbacks and deferred maintenance have piled up into a list of unfunded demands totaling nearly $700 million.

Taken as a whole, those new programs and initiatives could eat up most of the nearly $1 billion general fund that pays for the bulk of the city's ongoing service costs.

Of course, nobody expects the city to meet all those demands, especially because San Jose expects to continue facing budget deficits for at least the next four years. In fact, only a few of those costs have to be dealt with this year.  More at San Jose Mercury News

02/11/07 The San Jose Grand Prix, which received a controversial taxpayer subsidy last year, attracted far fewer fans than organizers claimed and produced a much smaller economic impact than its backers touted, according to a city study released Friday.

The downtown road race also had the lowest economic return compared to its cost to taxpayers among six major downtown events last year, according to the study by Berkeley-based consulting firm SportsEconomics.

While the city poured $2.3 million into the 2006 Grand Prix for an impact on the local economy of $23.6 million -- more than 10 times the size of the city's subsidy -- the Tapestry Arts Festival generated $12.4 million in economic impact, nearly 400 times the value of the city grant it received.

The study was commissioned last year amid questions about the validity of a $41.6 million estimate city officials had made about the economic impact of the 2005 race, an estimate produced to bolster the case for the taxpayer subsidy. The new analysis cuts the value of the race to the local economy by more than 40 percent.

City economic development and Grand Prix officials said the race subsidy -- which will drop to about $1.7 million this year and then cost about $600,000 annually beginning in 2008 -- was justified because the economic return will improve in future years as the city cost drops and the event generates national and international exposure.

``We don't want to lose sight of all the other benefits, including building civic pride and contributing to raising San Jose's profile,'' said Dale Jantzen, president of the Grand Prix. The event features professional open-wheel race car drivers speeding around closed downtown streets.

Jantzen acknowledged that race officials vastly overstated attendance last year, announcing at the event's conclusion a total attendance of 155,934 for the three-day event, purportedly an increase of more than 2,000 people from the inaugural race in 2005. Jantzen said the correct figure for 2006 was about 120,000.

There was ``actually a mistake that we made in 2006 where we counted some single-day tickets as three-day tickets,'' Jantzen said. He stood by his 2005 attendance count and said ``it's not unusual for a second-year event to have a lower attendance than a first-year event, and we're looking forward now to 2007.'' Race officials announced last month that ticket prices would be reduced by about 20 percent this year. More at Mercury News

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