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Correcting City’s Hall’s Math: Major Stadium Events Bring Average $400,000 to Bottom Line But High School and College Games Lose Big

Ever hear the story about the statistician who drowned when he tried to wade across a river that was an average of three feet deep?

The reason the statistician drowns is the fallacy of averages. River depth at any given point is an independent variable — it doesn’t depend on the depth of the river at any other point. So a calculation of an average based on any number of points in the river can’t tell you if the place you step in is 10 feet or 10 inches deep.

But this is the arithmetic Santa Clara City Hall is using in its recent official statement that the City only realized a net profit of $55,000 per event from non-NFL events in Levi’s Stadium in 2017-2018.

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The fact is that six major commercial stadium events — 39,000+ tickets — netted the Santa Clara’s 2017-2018 bottom line $2.4 million — or $400,000 each.

There were two concerts in 2017-18 — compared with four in 2016-17 — each of which sold over 45,000 tickets. These two concerts alone brought the City $900,000 in net profit to the City’s bottom line. That’s an average of $450,000 per event.

Three other big sporting events, Monster Jam and three soccer games, netted the City $1.5 million — an average of $370,000 per event.

The City added together two high school football games (average attendance under 4,000) two college football games (average attendance 32,000) for a loss of $3.6 million. The City’s PR failed to note or analyze this important number.

To complete the picture the City averaged in two wedding fairs (average attendance 400) and a couple of corporate events (attendance unknown), which together added up to net revenue of $76,400.

“I am grateful that the Measure J audit, improved financial transparency and community research efforts,” said Mayor Lisa Gillmor in the City Hall press release, “led by the Stadium Authority, resulted in greater transparency of the true neighborhood and financial impacts of concerts, soccer and non-NFL football events.”

The 2016-17 FYE financial report was published May 23, 2017. The 2017-2018 FYE report was published Oct. 2, 2018 one month prior to the City of Santa Clara elections. Gillmor is running for mayor.

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