Monday, April 28, 2008

Assessing the cost (and benefits) of hosting a Pope

Long after the Pope has left, New York city tallies up the financial costs (and benefits) of his visit - Michael Frazier of Newsday reports:

Hours after Benedict's departure, city officials continued to measure the economic benefits of his stay. They also are tallying how much it cost the city to host his holiness.

The city expected to pay significant overtime for police officers.

"This is one of those things were the expenses are relatively negligible, virtually impossible to measure, but the benefits will go on for a long time," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, pointing to the global exposure the city gained by welcoming Benedict.

While he didn't provide the cost of overtime, the mayor said the city's Police Department has a yearly budget of $5.5 billion, with funding set aside for special events.

Police officials said Monday that overtime cost hadn't been figured. ...

The Greater New York Chamber of Commerce had no figures on how much the city took in during Benedict's trip, though the group's executive director, Helana Natt, said hotels, restaurants and even street vendors profited.

The street closures may have hurt some businesses, but the impact was dampened because the visit occurred over the weekend, Natt said.

According to New York City officials, Pope John Paul II's visit in 1995 totaled "$65 million in spending in the city, including food, hotels and shopping."