Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Integrity of Feasibility (or vice versa)

Here is the City of Memphis Request for Proposal for a "Feasibility Study for the Development of a New Liberty Bowl Stadium". I point to it because there appears to be a financial incentive for the winning bidder to say the new stadium's feasible. In Section IV (Reporting) of the RFP it reads,
Preliminary Progress Report: The consultant shall provide the Mid-South Fairgrounds Redevelopment Committee’s Stadium Subcommittee with a Preliminary Progress Report at the conclusion of the market analysis and address the threshold question of whether the Stadium is feasible. If it is determined that the project is feasible, the consultant shall complete the demand and financial analysis. If not, the consultant will perform no additional services and be paid solely for the completed market analysis.
And in Section III (Scope of Work),
Recommended Stadium Facility. Subject to the initial determination of project feasibility, the consultant shall develop preliminary design parameters for the Stadium including options for site location and preconceptual building designs. The number of seats, club seats, luxury suites, parking spaces, and other key design attributes should also be discussed. The consultant shall provide an estimate of the preliminary project cost of the Stadium identified by expenditure type for professional services, development costs, site work, cost of construction, fees, testing, and project contingency.
(emphasis mine in both excerpts)

That sounds like a lot of planning work that extends beyond feasibility. A lot of lost work if you say "not feasible!"

Many, or at least most, or at least a massive majority, of Memphians (outside of the Mayor's Office and Folk's Folly) have great skepticism about a new stadium. The study, if it is to be done, should have integrity. The Mayor's Office should firewall the feasibility portion from the planning and design portion. Perhaps even forbid the same consultant from bidding on both the feasibility study and planning/design/construction, in a Sarbanes-Oxley kind of way.

But if the firewall doesn't exist, Memphians should be skeptical of a study that announces "feasible!"

The bids were due last Friday, April 20. The oral presentation are May 3 and the winning bid will be announced May 4.

Update: The Commercial Appeal has a little more about the stadium process in today's paper. Interesting quote: "One of the things that the committee has said is that we will allow the information to drive the process -- not vice versa," [chairman of the fairgrounds redevelopment committee, Cato] Johnson said."

I think it's super they said it. But they didn't write it into the RFP.

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Anonymous dee said...

There is also a study to find out what the Liberty Bowl actually needs to be feasible as well, how many competing studies are our tax dollars going for, anyhow?

It's this sort of thing that should spur Memphis to send the current administration packing. A new administration elected in October will put a stop to this utter folly.

1:12 PM  
Blogger gatesofmemphis said...

In theory I don't mind the due diligence of studies like these, but it in practice they seem to be used as political ammunition rather than an effort at the truth. It appears that the feasibility study is designed to give the result that the Mayor wants, by rewarding the consultant.

the other study, the ADA study, doesn't seem to have that weakness, but I haven't looked at the RFP.

9:43 AM  

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