Advertising Age has a piece on the phenomenon of corporate naming rights coming to public transit systems across the country:
There's the TECO Line Streetcar System in Tampa, sponsored by Tampa Electric. The HealthLine bus line in Cleveland, sponsored by the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals. And if all goes as planned, there will be a Barclays Center subway stop in Brooklyn by 2012. Municipalities facing shrinking budgets are turning increasingly to the private sector to fund public services, offering up naming rights in exchange for cash.
In principal, I can't stand corporate naming rights. I used to really appreciate the fact that all three of Cleveland's major sports venues (Browns Stadium, Gund Arena, and Jacobs Field) had avoided the wrath of giant corporations. But I guess the renaming was inevitable, and now only Browns Stadium retains a unique name.

On the other hand, I'd rather see a public transit system with corporate names on lines and stations than a system that has to cut service and raise fares because it doesn't have enough cash. It seems like this is easier said than done, unfortunately. You can't just go around renaming transit stations willy nilly. Every renamed station or line has to be reflected on signage and maps. In the 90s, when Congress wanted to rename one of the Washington Metrorail's stations after Ronald Reagan, the price tag came in at about $400,000. Presumably, of course, the corporate sponsor would cover the cost in this instance. But it's also difficult from a PR perspective. When a visitor shows up in New York City with an outdated map and can't figure out where the McDonalds Big Mac station is or how to get on the Goldman Sachs Moneyline, it doesn't shine a good light on the city. And I imagine getting old maps out of circulation could easily take years.

Now, renaming multiple stations all at one time may not incur much additional marginal cost, but trying to auction off bulk naming rights anywhere and everywhere in the middle of a recession would probably yield much less revenue than it otherwise might. But I guess desperate times call for desperate measures.

Calculating Fuel Economy

I recently finished reading Nudge, a decent book but not something I would highly recommend. Nevertheless, there is one idea that authors present that I found pretty interesting.

When it comes to fuel efficiency in cars and trucks, just about everyone measures it by the "miles per gallon" metric, even though it turns out to be one of the worst ways to measure fuel economy. GOOD recently had a nice piece about why "gallons per 100 miles" would be a superior metric, but even so, it still doesn't tell people the most important thing they might want to know: how much it is going to cost?

Consider the case for these four 2009-model GM vehicles: Chevy Aveo, Cadillac CTS, Chevy Suburban 1500, GMC Sierra C15. First, we'll look at the MPG (city/highway) ratings:

Aveo: 25/34
CTS: 18/26
Sierra: 15/20
Suburban: 14/20

We can convert this to gallons per 100 miles, and the numbers look like this:

Aveo: 4.0/2.9
CTS: 5.6/3.8
Sierra: 6.7/5.0
Suburban: 7.1/5.0

In this case, it seems a little more obvious how much more fuel efficient the Aveo is than the Suburban or the Sierra, but it doesn't take the next step to determine how much it will actually cost the driver. Fortunately, the EPA now calculates an estimated annual fuel cost.

Aveo: $1307
CTS: $1742
Sierra: $2152
Suburban: $2288

That's for a single year, but most people own vehicles for many years. If we multiply these values by 5 (to estimate the cost over five years), the difference becomes even more apparent.

Aveo: $6535
CTS: $8710
Sierra: $10760
Suburban: $11440

These estimates are pretty conservative, since they completely ignore inflation. Nevertheless, that variable could easily be factored into the calculation.

Sticker price is powerful for new vehicle buyers. Most probably prefer a more fuel efficient model when one is available, but the traditional MPG metric makes differences in fuel economy look minor. Only if we extrapolate out over a period of time do people become better aware of how much a certain type of vehicle will actually cost and knowing that the cost of a particular model will cost hundreds or thousands of dollars of dollars more over time could be a major game changer at purchase time.
NOW did a feature on student loans recently:

In keeping with typical PBS style, the episode isn't overly shocking or off-the-wall (like say, 20/20 might be), but it gets the point across. I still think the best resource on this topic is Alan Michael Collinge's The Student Loan Scam. I wish NOW would have been able to cover a lot more, but I guess there is only so much that can be said in a 25 minute episode.
2nd Avenue Sagas has a great post about the apathy that some New Yorkers seem to express about their city's subway system.

Nobody likes price inflation on consumable goods and services; so when MTA decided it had to raise fares to avert a financial disaster, some people were understandably ticked off. But what's fascinating are the threatening comments some people have made; saying things like "nobody is going to pay those ridiculous fares" or "I'll start driving instead". Most are surely empty threats, but they demonstrate a fundamental misunderstanding of the tradeoffs between transportation options in a city like New York.

Sure, traditional economic theory suggests that buyers switch freely between similar goods. If the price of Pepsi goes up, more people buy Coke. If the price of ham goes down, fewer people eat turkey. The difference is that there isn't really a fundamental shortage of soft drinks or lunch meets. There is, on the other hand, a major shortage of drivable pavement and parking spaces in New York City.

The American Community Survey reports that more than 1.9 million New Yorkers commute by public transit and a little more than 1 million commute by car (most drive alone, but some in carpools). Imagine if 10% of New Yorkers, angry about MTA fare hikes, started driving. The result would be about 190,000 additional car commuters. And I hear traffic in New York City is already pretty awful...

These threatening comments illustrate an elementary error that people make in every day game theory: they consider what's in their best interest while ignoring what everyone else might do. See, if a monthly subway pass goes up by $20, then I might personally be better off driving in a car... but only if nobody else comes to that same conclusion.

This is exactly the reason why both drivers and transit commuters in a city like New York should care more about the city's transit infrastructure. Drivers might think they are unaffected by transit cuts or fare hikes, until some former subway riders start jamming up the streets and highways. Transit riders might think that putting their car on the road won't do anything to increase congestion, but it does. In fact, if these tradeoffs were better understood, maybe we could accomplish things like tolling bridges and highways and implementing Michael Bloomberg's congestion pricing scheme. But that's probably still pretty far away.

Keep Up With Me

If you only follow me here at Extraordinary Observations, you may be missing out on some of the other fun stuff I have been up to recently. We're now almost two months into Newsweek's Generation O project. Check out my posts here and subscribe to the RSS feed if you haven't already! Ohio locals may be interested in my first post over at Rust Wire about a new study that shows Ohio's college graduates have little interest in sticking around in the state.

Continuing with my tour of urban places that began last month in Las Vegas, I'm planning to visit Philadelphia, Washington DC, New York City and possibly one more city (any suggestions?) by the end of summer (ie. Labor Day). Of course, I will have trip reports to share upon my return.

Celebratory Destruction

LAist has some interesting pictures of the riots and destruction that took place in downtown Los Angeles after the Lakers won the NBA championship. Now, if it had been a bunch of people in Orlando Magic gear tearing down the city, this might be understandable, but it's not. One thing I never understood about sports is why the winning team's fans occasionally proceed to destroy their own city. A few weeks ago I heard people saying the same would happen in Cleveland if the Cavs had won the championship... how embarrassing.

Open Source Textbooks

Kevin Drum recently had a few thoughts about the open source movement:
Ten years ago, I remember ruminating over the open source movement and wondering what its limits were. What kind of stuff would people do for free, and what kind of stuff wouldn't they? Since open source software is mostly produced by obsessive nerds, the obvious answer is that they'll work for free on the kind of things that obsessive nerds themselves like to use: operating systems, editors, compilers, etc. Then, at the other end of the spectrum, you have, say, the firmware for controlling GM's assembly line robots. Nobody in their right mind would do that for free.
In my opinion, open source has gotten pretty sophisticated. There are now a whole lot of open source software programs that are nearly as good as their proprietary counterparts (at least for individual or casual users). Craigslist is easier and more efficient than newspaper classifieds. Wikipedia is more comprehensive than the old-school bound encyclopedias.

One place where open source does not seem to have penetrated at all is the college textbook market. On the one hand, it seems like there should be someone willing to produce this material, or at least to collaborate with others to produce it. Plus, I imagine that most academics would agree that better access to knowledge is a good thing for everyone. On the other hand, a major predicament is that even if textbooks were to go open source, the professors teaching the classes need to be willing to teach from these books. All too often I've had professors unwilling even to allow students to use old editions of the class's textbook.

The racket that is college textbooks is one of the things that drives me crazy about higher education. Solutions do seem to exist, but progress just doesn't seem to be getting made.

Praising Public Media

Frontline has another awesome documentary about the financial crisis as a follow up their Inside the Meltdown episode.

Without a doubt, public radio and public television have had some of the best coverage of the financial crisis. Between the two Frontline episodes, NPR's Planet Money blog and podcast, This American Life's series of episodes on the topic, and anything else I may be forgetting, there isn't much out there that is better.
In the debates over energy efficiency, a new metric has emerged to measure how green policies are: how many cars is it like taking off the road?

For example, Coke's new vending machines are like taking 218,000 cars off the road for two weeks. Regulating energy utilities in California is like taking 350,000 cars off the road for a year. Switching to CFL light bulbs is like removing 3.5 million cars from the road. Using biofuel is like taking 32 million cars off the road. Painting roofs white is like taking all of the world's cars off the road for 11 years! I think you get the point.

This language shows something extraordinary about how we now think. We are fully willing to admit that driving cars is bad for the environment and even that we should probably try to do what we can to stop polluting. But instead of policies that seek to actually encourage removing cars from the road, we like to think about pollution reduction policies that are "like" taking cars off the road, even if they don't.

I look forward to the day that we can talk about policies like congestion pricing or transit infrastructure and the newspapers will report that it is like installing X number of CFL bulbs, or like painting Y number of roofs white. Or we could just stick to some scientific metric, like tons of CO2, but that might be too optimistic.

City in a City

I've recently become intrigued by the new City Center project slated to open in Las Vegas later this year. The project promises to be an "urban metropolis" and a "city within a city". Admittedly, it looks extremely cool, but I have my doubts.

At first glance, this development seems to have everything: 2000+ condo units, 5000+ hotel rooms, casino gambling, public transportation, shopping, Cirque du Soleil, and its own fire department and power plant. At $8.5 billion it's supposedly the biggest private development in U.S. history. MGM Mirage has put a lot on the line to get it built. They've already sold their Treasure Island property to raise desperately needed cash. Now they've put up their Circus Circus property as collateral against cost overruns.

When (and if) City Center opens this winter, it will certainly be a spectacular sight. But will it be the great urban place it promises to be? Or will it be more like a cartoon of a great urban place? I guess the answer to those questions requires us to consider the philosophical question of what a city is.

At the end of the day, City Center is a luxury resort, designed to make as much money for its investors as possible. Of the 12,000 employees who will work there, my bet is that only a few executive types will be able to afford any of City Center's residences. The majority of the condo units will be sold to the ultra wealthy, those looking for a place to park money, and people interested in having a guaranteed great view of the Strip each time they visit Las Vegas.

Of course, a lot of the hotel clerks, restaurant servers and valet parkers working in Manhattan can't afford to live in Midtown, either; but a lot of people who work in the New York City do live there. A great city has local stakeholders and a healthy degree of tourism. It has a diverse population of people, from the wealthy to the working class. It has a diverse selection of restaurants, from upscale sushi bars to greasy hamburger joints. A great city has an economy that doesn't put all of its eggs in one basket and reinvests money locally.

City Center has some awesome architecture, exciting urban designs, and lofty aspirations. As awesome as it would be for a developer to build an entire city from scratch in less than a decade, I think it can only go so far. When you think about it, the billions of dollars that MGM Mirage has invested in this project and pushed itself toward the brink of bankruptcy is a drop in the bucket compared to the money governments can and do spend on development. I'd like to visit City Center next year to see how it lives up to the hype. For now, it will be interesting to see how things progress.
Daniel recently opined about his sister's acceptance and scholarship to Harvard, noting that the difference between the two is that she attended a Chicago public school while Daniel attended one of the city's private institutions. And while my interactions with Daniel make me think he is a very smart guy, like me, he did not make it to Harvard.

Now, I've spent enough time around high school policy debate to know that there are a number of very respectable urban public high schools across the country. Conveniently enough, Newsweek's Jay Mathews top public high schools list was released last week, so I went ahead and combed through looking to see whether any big city high schools made the list.

Some big city school districts are nicely represented. New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, and San Diego all have more than five public high schools that make the list. Most big cities have one or two high schools that make the list; and the are typically magnet or other specialized schools. And yes, a few big cities have zero high schools on the list (Cleveland and Detroit).

A frequently raised complaint about cities is that they are bad for families and they have terrible public schools. Based on my glance at this year's Newsweek's list, I would suggest that the argument is definitely more true in some places than others. A family in Chicago is much more likely to find an acceptable public high school than a family in Cleveland, as is someone in Miami as opposed to someone in Detroit. Ultimately though, the issue is less black and white than most probably wish it could be. Yes, there are some respectable urban high schools, there are also some bad suburban high schools and vice-versa. It seems like a case-by-case analysis of an individual family's needs is really the best way to go.

Edit: Yes, I know that there are inherent problems in any ranking system (including this one) and I've noted previously that determining what makes a "good" school is extremely difficult and ambiguous. That said, it is still probably the case that some big cities have better public schools relative to others. It's also probably the case that there isn't a single big city school district that wouldn't benefit from fundamental improvements. Ryan Avent has a solid takedown here.

All About Infrastructure

This week's New York Times Magazine is all about infrastructure, architecture, urbanism, and other cool topics this blog finds interesting.

Infrastructurist has a nice summary of the issue, but all of the articles are worth a read. Check it out.
I got excited when I saw some of my buddies starring in this new YouTube promo video for Southwest Airlines:

Considering that this video appears to be a low-budget production filmed at (what looks like) Love Field Airport and starring some of Marketing's and PR's finest, I have to admit that I am impressed with its overall production value.

I am a "C group traveler" like Christi. Maybe one day I will graduate up to an Adam or a Blair, but for now I am happy with the Wanna Get Away fares that I like to book.
So the Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that cities cannot enforce residency requirements for civil service employees. I think this is a shame. It will probably weaken all three of Ohio's big cities, as well as its metro areas and ultimately the state itself.

The Ohio Judicial Center (from Wikipedia)

There are a few things I want to address.

First, the argument that residency requirements somehow infringe on a person's freedom to choose where they live is nonsense. Every job in existence has requirements that infringe on some right to do something. If I pass the bar exam but can't get a job as a trial lawyer because I refuse to wear a suit in court, does that infringe on might right to dress casually at work? Sure. If I land on job at Subway and get terminated for showing up to work intoxicated, does that infringe on my right to get drunk? Sure. The Cleveland Clinic won't hire anyone who smokes; does that infringe upon someone's right to enjoy cigarettes? Absolutely. People may not find all the requirements of every job to be fair, but unfortunately that's the way the world turns.

Now, there might be a few instances in which cities would benefit from allowing its employees to live in suburbs. If there was a tight labor market for whatever reason and and help was hard to come by, hiring people from the suburbs would make sense. Or if the price of living in the city is overwhelmingly expensive but cheaper housing can be found outside the city, it would probably be OK to allow city employees to live where they can afford. In Ohio's cities, neither of these is really an issue.

Ultimately, the blame doesn't completely fall on the Supreme Court. People shouldn't be desperate to escape cities and if they are then it points to a much deeper and more fundamental problem at hand. Schools not so good? Cities should work to attract young singles to the city. Government corrupt? Give people a reason why living in the city is worth it anyway. Jobs moving to the suburbs? Do everything possible to lure them back or don't let them leave in the first place.

I often hear Cleveland's locals talk positively about the city because of its uniqueness. They will say, "who cares what Chicago or Boston or New York City is doing? I don't want Cleveland to turn into one of those places anyway". Fair enough, but it's time to accept the reality that some cities do one thing much better than others: they attract smart, hard-working, well-to-do people to the urban areas. Every city has its unique problems. Some are painfully expensive, others have unfriendly or pretentious people living in them. Most cities have some sort of corruption in municipal government and a few have unemployment on par with Cleveland. Just about every metro area is dealing with suburban sprawl in some way, but nevertheless, some are making significantly more progress in maintaining their urban cores than others, we should pay attention to why.
This column in the Detroit Free Press does a good job summing up last summer's crisis in the context of today:
Gas prices are sneaking up again, into territory that's making me cringe, not just for my own budget but because so many people are pinching every penny in this miserable economy. The experts are saying we shouldn’t fear a repeat of 2008’s unbelievable record prices, when gas topped $4 a gallon and really got people to cut back on driving and rethink buying vehicles without regard to fuel efficiency. OK. Can we slow down the recent rise, then?
Amazing to think that it was only a year ago that the hottest topic on this blog (and elsewhere) was the energy crisis. You remember, right? When crude oil crossed the $100 mark and kept skyrocketing upward; and when gasoline made it into the $4 per gallon range and freaked out everyone who drives a car on a regular basis. Politicians blamed the evil Wall Street "speculators" and consumers thought they could boycott their way to lower prices.

Here is the thing: it's typically assumed that energy prices and economic output are related. In a booming economy, energy prices should be high and in a down economy they should be cheap. So in light of the fact that we have the worst economy in 25 years and energy prices at above-average historical highs, it certainly seems like cause for concern. And it is.

Ryan Avent has a great piece about how energy prices could thwart the possibility of an economic recovery. The one thing that will be true is that they will impact some groups disproportionately more than others. Industries that are energy-intensive will have a more difficult time recovering than those that aren't. Individuals who take advantage of the down housing market and buy homes in the exurbs and the collapse of the American autos to buy big vehicles to get around will likely find themselves in the same annoying situation so many were complaining about last summer.
Last week the Daily Dish linked to a new blog called Spotted: DC Summer Interns, which essentially publishes anecdotes about the naivety and ignorance of Washington DC's summer interns. In fairness, though, it seems like most of the abuse is directed at Congressional interns, who of course are fully unpaid.

Now, I've always been skeptical of unpaid internships. Personally because I've never been able to afford them. In a city like Washington, DC, an unpaid internship could easily set you back thousands of dollars by the end of the summer. Plus, there are only so many minimum wage bar and restaurant part-time jobs to go around. But professionally, unpaid internships theoretically attract the lowest-quality talent for a few reasons. First, because it basically strong-arms anyone who can't afford the cost out of the picture. And second, because even for people who can afford to do an unpaid internship, it would have to be a spectacular experience for them to accept it over any paid position, even an internship that pays minimum wage.

A popular defense is that people should be paid based on the skill-level of the work and their willingness to do it at a low price. It seems fair that some entry level staffer should make $25k per year while her boss makes $50k; and even though it would be challenging, it is possible to live on $25k per year (even in Washington DC). It is literally impossible to live on a $0 salary (assuming there isn't some outside funding source).

I guess the question that needs to be asked is: what is the purpose of hiring interns? If the answer is to acquire free labor to do tedious work and mindless tasks then unpaid internships seem to be the way to go. If the answer is to recruit good talent to the organization, then unpaid internships seem to be a very poor tool for achieving that goal. The $8 per hour an organization pays to get good a good intern could easily pay for itself over the long term.

One last thought is that surely there are good interns that don't fit the stereotype built by the DC Interns blog. Perhaps these good interns saved their hard earned money for months in order to afford an internship. Maybe they work a painful number of hours at a part-time job to make enough to cover living expenses; or maybe they commute some disgustingly long distance twice a day in order to live with a relative or avoid the high rents in the District. Or perhaps they just have a sense of responsibility and want to do a good job. Whatever the case, I imagine that these people must be in the most frustrating position of all. Not only do they have to work right next to the jokers who seem less concerned about their internship than other things in life, but they get their good name ruined by the stereotypical inters' brainless behavior.

Food, Inc.

David Brancaccio talked to Robert Kenner about his new documentary on last Friday's episode of NOW.

My initial thought is that the material in this film looks basically the same as Michael Pollan's book The Omnivore's Dilemma. Nevertheless, this is an important topic that impacts more Americans than just about any else. I've already heard rumors that Food, Inc. is going to win awards for documentary of the year. I'll wait until I see it to make my own judgment, but based on the clips I have seen and this interview, it definitely has potential.

Peak Car Consumption

Felix Salmon sees the peak of car consumption:
If we’ve learned anything over the past decade, it’s that things can stay at unsustainable levels for much longer than anybody might imagine. And over the medium term, it’s far from obvious that auto sales in the 9-10 million range are really as unsustainable as all that. Not only don’t we need to get back to “a typical replacement rate”; it’s actually very unlikely we will ever again see the rates of car ownership that prevailed before the crash. That was a world of 3-car garages in exurban McMansions; we’re moving into a more sustainable way of living, which involves fewer cars and higher urban density.
It makes sense. In fact, the day that there were officially more vehicles in this country than registered drivers (this occurred more than 30 years ago), it probably should have been obvious that the end was near, but it continued unchecked for decades. After that, the only way for growth to continue was for households to own more cars than they realistically needed. How many cars does a single person need to own, anyway?

False Reality

I caught this commercial for the new Sims PC game yesterday night.

Admittedly, I played the original Sims game, but that was probably 7 or 8 years ago. I can't really stick with any of these games because I get bored of them too easily. Nevertheless, the whole concept of the Sims seems like a strange but interesting sociological phenomenon. On the one hand, these games allow people to live in a fantasy world and do things that they can't or won't do in their real lives. On the other hand, it really makes you wonder why we do some things in reality that we would never want to do in the game. For instance, maybe this new Sims game will allow players to spend 2 hours a day sitting alone in a car in bumper to bumper traffic. But why would anyone in their right mind want to do that, after all?

Why So Few Passports?

A lot of my peers seem surprised (some even shocked) by this statistic that only 30% of Americans hold passports.

I think the explanation is rather obvious: travel is expensive. Travel is really expensive. Considering that the median household income in the United States is about $50,000, most Americans simply can't afford to pack up and hop on a plane to Europe or Asia or South America on any notice. Adding salt to the wound is the fact that passports themselves are expensive ($100) and inconvenient to obtain (paperwork, lines at the Post Office). Why would anyone struggling to pay for mortgage or feed their family spend their hard-earned money on a passport knowing they can't afford to leave the country anyway? I guess they wouldn't...

Backpacking across Europe after graduation might be an Ivy League tradition, but for a majority of Americans, it simply isn't feasible. There are probably a few closed-minded folks who have no interest in leaving the United States (and that's a shame), but I would speculate that most would love the opportunity if they could afford it or if, say, they won a free trip on the Price is Right.

Maybe now that Americans need passports to get back into the country from Mexico and Canada it will induce more people to apply. But if having a large percentage of Americans with passports is the goal, the process should be streamlined and the fees reduced.

*Disclosure: I do not hold a passport for the reasons above.
Las Vegas's tourism industry might be hurting, but poker is still running strong. Gambling 911 writes that the 2009 World Series of Poker has already set a handful of new records, including: the largest prize pool for a non-Main Event tournament ($7.7184 million), the biggest Omaha tournament ever played (833 participants), and the largest non-Main Event hold'em tournament (which hit capacity at 6,000 participants).

Honestly, I thought poker would hit its peak in popularity two or three years ago, when every sports network (and a few others) started airing poker games non-stop. When the Unlawful Internet Gambling Act made it difficult for internet gambling companies to offer satellites and get players into World Series tournaments for cheap, the number of attendants took an immediate dive.

Why is 2009 turning out to be a record breaking year for the World Series of Poker? Maybe there are many out-of-work individuals with time to burn and the lure of big money is driving them out west. Perhaps the hotels in Las Vegas are so desperate to fill their rooms that they're making it easier than ever to convince poker players to come give the World Series a shot. With more than a month to go until the Main Event, it should be interesting to see if the trends continue.
In yesterday's post about density and baseball, I tried not to speculate about what causes MLB ticket prices in some cities to be higher than others. Unfortunately, I don't have the data, resources, or time necessarily to do a full-blown study on this question. Any hypothesis I come up with will be untestable (and thus unprovable). But because a few have inquired, I will toss out a few theories.

The first and most obvious hypothesis is that the more people who live close to something of value, the higher demand for that something will be. Thus by extension, places with high population density should have higher demand for Major League Baseball. Here is another way to think about it: when I lived within walking distance of my favorite pizza restaurant, I went all the time. Now, I still live within driving distance of this pizza place, but I rarely eat there. When I do, it is for some special reason. Driving ten miles for pizza has become an event itself. The same idea could hold for Major League Baseball. When fans from far-flung suburbs attend MLB games, the whole thing becomes an event. On-balance, the same fan would probably go more often if they lived close to the ball park.

Second, teams that are in central cities can attract fans from just about all suburbs; teams from suburbs might not be able to attract fans from other suburbs. This relates back to my anecdotes about the Texas Rangers. A commenter points out that the Rangers do have a decent following, and I noted that the DFW metro area is one of the five largest in America; but the team plays in Arlington. Being a rich white man's game (at least more so that basketball and football) the target audience for baseball is going to come from the wealthier parts of town. In Dallas, wealth runs north; in Fort Worth, it runs southwest. The Rangers's ball park falls somewhere in between. Driving across town during rush for for an evening game?.. Could be enough of an inconvenience to convince some people their time might be better spent on something else.

Finally, Daniel proposes that teams that are close to transit can attract more fans. I think there is some validity to this. For whatever reason, people who are otherwise completely unwilling to use transit in their day to day lives will get on a bus or a train for a special event. Plus, it seems like every time Washington DC's Metrorail sets a new all-time record for ridership it coincides with a baseball game, basketball game or some other event.

I'm not sure if there are any policy implications that can be drawn from this. Team owners locate to places that will accomodate them. While it would be nice for every team to be in a super-dense part of town, if another, less dense municipality offers tax-breaks, subsidies, and other incentives, it all goes into the team owner's value calculation. At the end of the day, whever a city gets a new team or builds a new stadium, it seems to be the taxpayers (as much as the teams' owners) getting stuck with the bill.