Sunday, June 04, 2006

Now I'm Not a Betting Man...

It's interesting to read the City of Pittsburgh Department of City Planning report next to the Pittsburgh Gaming Advisory Task Force [Interim] report, and watch them do battle in a steel cage match of death. I say "interesting" because "exciting" is a word I use to describe implosions, ninjas, and their ilk.

This website, by the way, is also... interesting.

The City Planning report was written by professional bureaucrats; the Task Force [Interim] report was written by appointees. As such, the former is filled with pages and pages of dull, boring, stats and figures, and the latter contains the word "synergy" three times. The City Planning report comes out in favor of the Harrah's plan; the Task Force [Interim] report comes out in favor of Isle of Capri. Both consider the plans, as presented, to be inadequate.

The Task Force [Interim] report divides its evaluation into the following areas of analysis: (1) Site Design, (2) The Arena, (3) Facility Design, (4) Financial, (5) Diversity, (6) Traffic, (7) Site Control, and (8) Economic Development/Local Economic Spinoff.

The City Planning report divides its evaluation into the following areas of analysis: (1) Location Analysis, (2) Operations Analysis, (3) Site Plan and Design Analysis, (4) Building Design Analysis, (5) Socioeconomic Analysis, and (6) Transportation and Parking Analysis. The City Planning report also subdivides its analysis further, and weighs different criteria more heavily to attain a numeric score for each plan.

It's always interesting to note how different analyses approach a problem, and groupings are often a tell tale sign of their priorities. It's interesting that the Task Force chooses to highlight Site Control, while City Planning lumps it in with Site Plan and Design; City Planning also includes the Arena as part of its analysis, but only within the context of the proposals, not as a stand alone criterion.

Where there is overlap, there is some agreement and some disagreement. For example, both agree that the Harrah's plan is better in terms of traffic and transportation, although the City Planning Report quantifies that by saying that Harrah's is bested by Isle of Capri by a score of 48 to 56.5, where highway access and minimization of traffic congestion are weighted most heavily. The Task Force [Interim] report, on the other hand, merely says that Isle of Capri best fits the existing traffic grid.

It is interesting to note that neither of these reports addresses crime, poverty, addiction, drugs, or the sexual proclivities of certain horse/donkey hybrids. While the Task Force [Interim] Report does call for an examination of a strategy to mitigate the negative effects of gaming, it is merely a request, not an analysis. According to the City Planning Report, Harrah's does expect to create 2,332 jobs with an annual, average wage of $24,317; Isle of Capri expects to create 4,112 with an average annual salary of $26,000. The area median income for the Pittsburgh MSA, by the way, is $54,900 and can be found here. I'm sure the casinos will provide good jobs, at good wages, 'n'at.

The Task Force [Interim] Report also seems to give far more weight than deserved to a new Arena, which seems to be the big thing going for the Isle of Capri proposal. All else being equal, Harrah's proposal and the Isle of Capri Proposal seem equal, although a reweighting of priorities would surely tip the balance.

Anyway, just thought I'd share. I'm spending the rest of the night watching ninjas implode.

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