Thursday, October 25, 2012

BC Place By The Numbers...Are We Really Getting Value For Money?


A few weeks ago, a piece published in the VSun under Jeff Lee's byline titled 'A Year Under The Big Top Wraps Up' included all kinds of back-and-forthing from folks both critical and not so about the massive renovation costs for BC Place stadium and whether they were worth it.

Here is one of those back-and forths:

...(Sandy) Garossino has gone so far as to suggest in a personal blog that were this a privately funded project, (then PavCo/BC Place chair David) Podmore - a successful developer in his own right - and former PavCo president Warren Buckley "would have been drawn and quartered by their shareholders by now, based on the fundamentals behind this absurdly lavish project."

Podmore says Garossino is taking liberties with what was promised. The stadium over the years has averaged 200 booking days a year, including conversions. PavCo expected the new facility would generate another 40. But as of this month, it has already been busy for 250 days, exceeding PavCo's estimates. He said he never meant to convey that there would be 40 "new acts," but rather 40 more days filled on BC Place's calendar.

"She went a little over the top. I don't see that argument," Podmore said. "I'd say give us a chance. We've just finished the building. We've just had part of a season of operation...

And then Mr. Lee moved on, but he (and/or his editor) helpfully added a 'By The Numbers' list at the end of the piece (which we assume came from the fine folks at PavCo).

Numbers like this:

Occupancy days (2009): 243

2010-11: closed for renovations

2012: 252 to date

2013: 250*

2014: 260*

2015: 250*


Given that the fine folks from PavCo (ie. folks that, apparently, work for us) actually post their 'occupancy' day numbers for BC Place on their website, we thought we would do what Mr. Lee and the very fine folks at the VSun apparently did not, which is to have an actual look at those numbers, month-by month, and do a little analysis for the 2012 'To Date' claim.

For this analysis, we broke things down into actual 'Event'  days and 'Other' days (which included stuff like 'Move In', 'Move Out' and 'Conversion') despite the fact that Mr. Podmore apparently thinks the latter are just great, or some such thing.

Here's what we found, again based on what is actually posted on the PavCo/BC Place website:

Events: 77 days (and we were very generous here and included stuff like 'PlayDome' as an 'event')
Other:  125 days (and, often many of those were laughable, with, for example, 11 MoveIn/Conversion/Move Out days in front of and behind the single Paul McCartney concert scheduled for late November).


It would appear that the actual 'Occupancy' days for 2012 are '202', not '250'. Therefore, unless, there is something wrong with the calendar on the PavCo/BC Place website, it would appear that the 'By The Numbers' list published by the VSun website is wrong.

As in incorrect.

Now, as to Mr. Podmore's unchallenged claim that Ms. Garossino was taking 'liberties' because the occupancy (including 'conversions'!) numbers are way up from the  pre-renovation days, we can only conclude that, based on his own actual numbers published on his own actual website, that he too is (to put it charitably) wrong.

As in incorrect.

And if Mr. Lee and/or the fine folks at the VSun had done a little  of the most basic of digging/fact-checking* they could have told their tens of thousands of readers (as opposed to our few dozen) that that was, indeed, the case.


And I won't even go into the egregious flinging of the codswallop that is the inclusion of 'conversion' days, etc. into the total....You want my honest opinion?...Going through this I can find ~50 event days/year that likely actually generate any spin-off revenue whatsoever in the downtown core...Thus, I really wonder about all those $$$ numbers that Mr. Podmore et al fling around in that regard (as justification for the $600 million dollar Magic Carpet - and I'm sticking with that 600 number until the fine folks at PavCo [remember, they work for us!] actually open their books and prove to us that the true cost is their now claimed $514 million) as well...
*Look, I know that folks who work in the proMedia are overworked, etc....I get that...But the actual tallying of the numbers from the BCPlace website took me all of about 15 minutes...Seriously...
Oh, and one last thing.... Just in case, I took an extra few minutes and sliced and diced the numbers from the post-renovation opening out one year...Or from Oct 2011 through Sept 2012 (the Lee piece was published in late Sept 2012) and nowhere did the aggregate ever come close to Mr. Podmore's claim of 250 days in any 12 month aggregate period...The real point here...The numbers are NOT up post- vs. pre-renovation...OK, that's enough, I'll stop now...



Norm Farrell said...

You are quite right about the phony numbers used by Pavco people to justify their bonuses while losing tens of millions every year. For Grey Cup 2011, held Nov. 27, they counted nine event days.

With no real job security, less honest reporters than Jeff Lee might be tempted avoid looking at details so they can shill for the operations they should be covering. Lee put himself in an uncomfortable position before and that was covered by Andrew McLeod of The Tyee:
"But the IOC must not have minded his recent "Feeling the Buzz" piece on preparations for the games in Vancouver and Whistler.

They paid for it and published it."

Andrew MacLeod could have added that Sun Reporter Jeff Lee is the only Canadian member of the Olympic Journalists' Association, which is called by Andrew Jennings at Transparency in Sport, the Olympic Reporters' Secret Club...


RossK said...

Thanks Norm.


Ian said...

Nice RossK,
The other number to look at is of course revenue because a lot of those occupancy days generate little or no money. It may be a good thing for my house to be filled with guests, but if they don't pay rent...

RossK said...

Ian and Norm--

Can we get at those numbers?

Again, it really is ridiculous...11 move/conversion days associated with the one concert for Mr. McCartney...I think it was 9 for Roger Waters in May....Jeez.


Bill said...

As your post points out there seemed to be more cut and paste than digging for and checking of facts on this Dome story. I think contrary to your "overworked MSM" tag (or was it a jibe that I missed?) that many in the MainStreamVoid are either too lazy or just not wanting to report the whole story.

The disservice of some reporters failing to tenaciously investigate and ask hard questions results in an un/misinformed public and a government that can not help themselves but to take liberties.

Also pretty sure you get a lot more than a few dozen readers here Ross and for sure they are well informed by all your posts and knowledgeable commenters c.f. to the VSun.


RossK said...


Re the jibe....see subheader...

I very much agree with your point about reporters that don't dig. However, I also think it is important to point out when somebody does it right, which is something we try to do here also. In the proMedia, Lindsay Kines of the VT-C and Justine Hunter of The Globe come to mind most recently.

Regarding the numbers here...I assure you, they are not big (cumulatively they are kinda/sort of impressive I suppose - see lowermost left corner of the page but, and this is a big but, I've been doing this for just about as long as anybody in the Lotuslandian Bloggodome)...However, that's not what I really care about...Instead, it's about who reads and who comments (and, as you note, what comes out of the discussions)....And, if you really want to know, doing this is more fun than just yelling at the TeeVee/Radio/Newsprint/Pixels every morning.