Outlaws: Spend money to make money

Outlaws baseball isn’t just about fun, it’s about funds, too.

That’s the word from an economic-impact study commissioned by the Golden Baseball League and released Nov. 16.

The overwhelmingly positive study by the Center for Economic Development (CED) at CSU, Chico found that the Outlaws were responsible for $4.6 million in benefits to the Chico economy during the team’s first season in summer 2005.

The league paid $6,000 total for the Chico case study along with a similar study for Yuma, Ariz., hometown to the Scorpions.

“We’re going to use it as a tool,” said Kimberlee Kelso, marketing director for the Pleasanton-based league. The idea is that other cities will see how great teams have been for their towns and decide to invest in the league, which owns all of the individual teams.

Bob Linscheid, general manager of the Chico Professional Baseball Club, said the GBL undertook the study partly due to his urging.

“We wanted to show our city and our community what kind of economic impact it had,” he said. He particularly wanted to make the point to onlookers in Redding, which Linscheid hinted would be a great town to set up a team rivalry with the Outlaws.

“A good league is good for the Outlaws,” he added.

Linscheid said the team handed over its budget figures to the CED for the study.

Warren Jensen, the CED manager of applied programs who authored the study, said the CED used an “input-output model” to plug in those figures and “estimate how those dollars flow through the community.” Jensen said that, barring a more specific study costing $200,000, some things had to be estimated. “Ideally, the economic impact would be a measure of the dollars captured by Chico businesses that would not have been captured if the Outlaws did not exist,” the study stated.

The study noted that the Outlaws spent $1.7 million in the community in 2005, and visiting players, family and friends spend an additional $70,000. Of the $1.7 million total, 89 percent, or $1.58 million, was spent in Chico: $925,000 to businesses and organizations, $495,000 on payroll, $90,000 on rent and insurance and $70,000 in taxes.

Under the theory that a dollar turns over multiple times, “Re-spending produced an additional $1.3 million in revenue to businesses and organizations, and $1.1 million in payroll and proprietary income,” according to a press release about the study. That’s taking into account that some of the money spent locally went to places not locally owned, such as Costco.

Jensen also said that once the GBL decided to hire the CED to do the study, it had no control over how the results came up. “We’re a nonprofit organization; an independent analyst.”

The Outlaws, with a full-time staff of seven, also provide about 100 seasonal jobs paying “pretty close to minimum wage,” Linscheid said, “not what you’d call ‘base-level jobs.'” The players make $1,150 a month.

Linscheid said that more important than dollars is “the family entertainment value that it provides. I don’t know how to quantify that economically.”

On Nov. 22, the Outlaws released next season’s schedule. It kicks off June 2, with fireworks, and there will be another fireworks display on July 3. This year is the first GBL all-star game, set for July 18.

The GBL operates eight teams.