The difference between $ 2 billion and $ 200 million is, well, substantial. The first number is exactly 10 times larger than the second. It’s also enough to go viral, as Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox learned Tuesday afternoon.
With him, he wanted to make things clear about an incorrect dollar figure associated with the impact of Alabama football on the local economy. Turns out (and previously reported), the loss of a Crimson Tide soccer season would hurt Tuscaloosa’s economy in the $ 200 million (not $ 2 billion) neighborhood.
And that’s significant considering that the city’s total revenue was $ 156 million in 2019.
Just no bilion of dollars Crazy how some viral tweets and stories can make it seem.
The story of the extra coma began with an interview with the local Birmingham television station CBS42. Maddox is indirectly quoted in the story saying that the loss of Alabama football in the coronavirus pandemic could lead to the loss of $ 2 billion in lost revenue.
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That surprising number is actually the economic impact of the entire university in the city, not just college football participation.
“I will take responsibility,” Maddox said in a phone interview Tuesday with AL.com. “I don’t have a recording of the full interview, but I will take responsibility if there was a mistake.”
Either way, the $ 2 billion figure made little sense. Using 2019 attendance numbers counted by 707,817 fans in seven home games, each guest would have had to spend $ 2,826 on each game day weekend to reach $ 2 billion.
Still, the story spread quickly on social media.
The quote from sports business reporter Darren Rovell tweeted a story to his more than 2 million followers. The Touchdown Alabama story stated that the loss of Alabama football would cost the city $ 2 billion in revenue.
The incorrect figure was also cited on websites such as Fox Business, Pro Football Talk, and The Daily Caller, among others.
Maddox did not know how widely the story spread (and a $ 2 billion figure) until he spoke to AL.com. He posted a tweet Tuesday morning to clarify the number when Cecil Hurt of The Tuscaloosa News also pointed to questionable math.
“Which is interesting,” Maddox said in the AL.com interview, “that people would even consider that in the realm of possibility … but its impact would be felt across our community.” But the fact is that Alabama has come if $ 2 billion can be mentioned and cannot be easily discounted. I think that speaks to the power of the program itself and how successful they have been. “
As of now, the school still says it plans to play a full season of soccer and that there are no official plans to reduce capacity at Bryant-Denny Stadium to allow for social distancing. Maddox said he has had conversations with the university about soccer and is having a positive attitude about it.
“I certainly think everyone will do everything in their power to have a soccer season,” Maddox said Tuesday, “but no one wants to sacrifice the safety of any individual on this journey.” Even knowing that it would be catastrophic at the local level from an economic point of view, we must first put the health, safety and well-being of the people we work for. I am sure that the university shares the same values. “
An influx of students ahead of the planned opening on August 19 of the fall semester would be a huge boost for Tuscaloosa’s tax coffers. Maddox estimates that the city is losing $ 1.5 to $ 2 million a month in tax revenue without students on campus. The abrupt end of classes in March was bad, but the exodus of students slowed Tuscaloosa’s economy.
Maddox had expected a drop in the balance sheet when AL.com interviewed him in March at the start of the crisis. How has your vision of the problem evolved?
“It has been longer than we expected,” Maddox said Tuesday. “I think the thing is, it actually worked to flatten the curve. The goal at first was to mitigate the spread of this, knowing that it would still spread, but if you mitigated it over time, it would protect your health system. We have, but the side effect is that you lengthen it further. But I had to do it because you can’t have an overwhelmed healthcare system because that’s what got New York in trouble. ”
Coronavirus-related hospitalizations peaked at Tuscaloosa in late May at 86. As of Monday, 48 patients were being treated at DCH Regional Medical for the virus.
Michael Casagrande is a Alabama beat writer for the Alabama Media Group. Follow her on Twitter @ByCasagrande or in Facebook.