Hark. It's Christmas Day and the city's chief administrative officer is sending out emails to City Council about the Redskins training camp.
The yuletide greeting promises that a study of the economic impact of the team's camp will be released in the coming week, and joy-be-to-Mayor-Jones, a draft of the report obtained by Style Weekly indicates the findings will suggest the camp beat financial expectations.
Tax revenues collected by retailers, hotels, restaurants and other categories the city says would be impacted by an influx of tourists increased $230,000 in July and August compared to the same months in 2012, according to the report, which concludes the camp increased city revenues by about $50,000 more the $180,000 initially projected by the economic consulting firm hired by the city.
Maybe. Leisure economist John Gerner, who reviewed the report, says the study doesn't actually tell us that much and needs to be read with some important caveats.
The first is obvious: The analysis, completed by the city's Finance Department, essentially attributes any additional economic activity over a 60-day period to the 17-day training camp. Gerner says that without direct reports from businesses involved in the camp, this is the best the city can do, but it doesn't tell the whole story. (The city does, however, have access to more detailed tax data than the general public. Overall, Richmond retail sales were down 6.8 percent between August 2012 and 2013, according to the state Department of Taxation.)
"The assumption is that the increase in the financial results was due to the training camp," Gerner says. "This may have been the case, but there were other possible factors in the time periods that could have affected the results. A typical reason is inflation, which alone should have increased tax revenues somewhat. Weather conditions and other local events at that time would also be factors."
Likewise, the report offers no comparison to how other Virginia localities fared during the same months, making it difficult to tell how much of the growth is unique to Richmond and its new camp.
The full report is expected to include more information, including the results of a separate study conducted by Richmond Region Tourism and Virginia Commonwealth University.