Cost of Winning

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"It's cheaper to lose."

That's the cold, hard terms of MSU advancing on in the NCAA Tournament. It comes from East Lansing city manager Ted Staton, speaking for a city facing tough decisions with a $1.5 million budget shortfall looming in 2006.

State budget cuts have cost East Lansing 20 percent in public service budgets like police and fire, exactly the services they need in post-game celebrations.

Essentially, the cost of winning is the cost of over preparation. Staton explains, "It's impossible to mobilize in the event of something happening, so we air on the side of overstaffed." East Lansing usually staffs between seven to 10 officers on a regular Sunday night. On a night like Sunday night, they had 100 officers on the streets from all over the area.

Captain Juli Liebler can't yet calculate how much a safe but rowdy post-game celebration cost on Sunday night, but she says it compares closely to costs in previous years.

For example, on March 30, 2003, two days after about 18 students were arrested and one seriously injured in a riot after MSU beat University of Maryland in the Sweet Sixteen, East Lansing paid out about $15,000 in overtime to their officers for the game versus University of Texas that followed. What's more, they paid some $47,000 total, about $32,000 more to cover overtime costs for other agencies involved.

Sundays night's Kentucky game celebration spared the city the costs of cleanup, but added a costly Final Four game to the schedule.