Heywood Sanders has seen this pitch before.
The narrative goes something like this: cities build a downtown convention center in hopes of luring visitors who will spend lots of money in downtown restaurants, bars and shops. But the visitors don't quite come in the numbers consultants promised, so the city decides it needs to build a grand headquarters hotel nearby, which will make its facility much more attractive to organizations holding conventions.
It's the advice that C.H. Johnson Consulting of Chicago is now giving to Madison officials. Its study, released earlier this week, recommends Madison build a 400- to 500-room hotel on Wilson Street, across from the Monona Terrace Convention Center. The company projects this will bring $78.8 million in spending, $31.3 million in earnings, and support 787 full-time equivalent jobs. "A new hotel," the report says, "is needed to sustain Monona Terrace operations and unlock significant market potential."
I like Monona Terrace a lot more than the average Madisonian, I gather -- probably because I wasn't here before or while it was built. But jeez oh man, what a bunch of nonsense this consultant study is.
Lyle Lanely: You know, a town with money is a little like the mule with the spinning wheel. No one knows how he got it and danged if he knows how to use it.
Homer: He heh... mule.
Lyle Lanely: The name's Lanely! Lyle Lanely. And I come before you good people tonight with an idea. Probably the greatest... Aw, it's not for you. It's more of a Shelbyville idea.
[starts to walk out of the room]
Mayor Quimby: [at the podium] Now wait just a minute! We're twice as smart as the people of Shelbyville. You just tell us your idea and we'll vote for it!
Lyle Lanely: All right. I'll tell you what I'll do! I'll show you my idea.
[runs over to a display covered by a sheet, and he whips it off, revealing a diorama of Springfield with a monorail model going through it]
Lyle Lanely: I give you the Springfield Monorail!
Lyle Lanely: I've sold monorails to Brockway, Ogdenville, and North Haverbrook, and by gum I've put them on the map!
[holds up a map of the U.S. with those towns' names drawn on with pen]