Terre Haute Rakes in Cash
'Moronic marketing venture' or 'capitalism at its best'? Either way, people are making a killing off the McVeigh execution.
"You think the people of Terre Haute aren't profiting already?" Walker said with a hoarse laugh.
"This whole town is going to profit. I'm just taking my little piece of the pie."
People are making a killing off the killing of Timothy McVeigh. From jacked-up hotel prices for journalists streaming into town, to McVeigh wall clocks for sale on eBay, the Oklahoma City bomber's execution brings an economic boon few want to talk about.
A Colorado federal court ruling Wednesday denying McVeigh's bid to postpone his lethal injection led to a burst of activity in this Indiana town of 60,000. Many had assumed the execution would be delayed. Now, the city is being set upon by 1,500 reporters and an undetermined number of protesters.
"I've got to make a bunch of sandwiches and get things ready," said Raoul David, who owns a grocery across the street from the federal prison. "This will mean big business."
Residents near the prison are making thousands of dollars selling parking spots on their lawns. A rental company is charging $200 for bike rentals. A shuttle bus to the prison costs $60. A 6-foot table on the prison grounds for a reporter, with one phone line and one electrical outlet, costs $1,196.50. That includes a complimentary bottle of chilled water.
The Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce avoided estimating how much the city's economy would benefit from the execution. But using the Chamber's standard figure of $70 spent per day per visitor, the city can expect to reap $500,000 from reporters, protesters, and out-of-town police assigned to crowd and traffic control.
That doesn't include money associated with coverage of the execution, such as equipment rental and parking, or the money spent by the hundreds of reporters who have descended on Terre Haute in recent months.
"It's just not right to talk about the numbers going to be generated by an event of this type," said Rod Henry at the Chamber of Commerce.