Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Wind Ding, the Witch is Dead

Doug LeDuc, the last of the N-S's crack business reporters, wrote yesterday of the return of a group that will surely save the city from impending economic doom: Honda motorcycle riders.
The largest convention in the city’s history – the annual Wing Ding convention of the Gold Wing Road Riders Association – will come roaring back into Fort Wayne next month.

The event brought almost 14,000 motorcycle enthusiasts to the city in 2002. Its economic impact exceeded $7 million.
We won't quibble with the $7 million figure, though it would be nice to know where that figure comes from. (These numbers, by the way, are always estimates. To present them as fact strikes us as a bit specious.)

Let's assume that the last Wing Ding brought in an extra $7 million to local businesses. So what? Put that figure in perspective: the Fort Wayne International Airport (which is far from bustling) has an economic impact of $419 million (that figure being another estimate).

$419 million. That's economic impact.

We'd like to know how much money is spent in Fort Wayne every six days (that's how long the bikers will be in town). Odds are it's much higher than $7 million or so the 14,000 Wing Dingers will be plopping down. After all, we're a city of 200,000 people.

That's not to say that the $7 million isn't important. It certainly is if you own a hotel or a restaurant close to the Coliseum. And there's nothing wrong with showing the bikers some trademark Hoosier hospitality. But is the money enough to justify giving these out-of-towners the entire Coliseum parking lot and Memorial Stadium during the Fourth of July Fireworks? What's more, should we treat them like royalty in a desperate attempt to get them to love us?

We think not.

Come on Fort Wayne. Have a little more self-respect. We don't need Wing Ding. We don't need their money. Would we like it? Sure. But it's not going to make us or break us. It's not something that we're going to bend over backward to get. They like coming here? Fine. Come. But we're not going to sell ourselves out for a measly $7 million. (Or at least we shouldn't.)

After all, our airport is a cash cow.

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