Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Light Rail and Stadiums

Just returned from Phoenix, where I was reporting on how light rail has changed the region in the 22 months since it opened. Ridership is high, it's the primary form of transportation for many fans going to Diamondbacks and Suns games, and most of the initial critics have been quieted.

One of the interesting concepts that proponents in Arizona (and here in Tampa Bay pushing for light rail) bring up is that even though rail is heavily-subsidized by tax dollars, almost everything "public service" we use is. Roads are subsidized by gas taxes, excise taxes, and federal dollars. Buses are too. Parks, libraries, and water lines are all subsidized.

You can lump ballparks into that group too. Subsidizing a new stadium with tax dollars is an investment in the community. However, I'll leave the question of "what is that value worth" for others to debate.

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