Friday, November 23, 2012

Post-Thanksgiving Must-Reads

First, another thought on the recently-released report from the Rays' stadium financing caucus (so you don't just have to read mine).  Today, Bill Parker from waxes poetic on stadium subsidies and how you can't live with 'em and you can't live without 'em:
Professional sports stadiums present among the biggest and most easily identifiable collective action problems in our world. Enough of these things have been built now, and enough research has been done on them, that there's really no question that, if no state, county or municipal governments ever agreed to provide any public financing for stadiums, everyone would be better off except those who own sports teams.

The (Baseball Stadium Financing) Caucus assumed a flat $500 million cost, with the Rays chipping in $150 million. No ballpark has had a price tag that low since 2006 (that was the new Busch Stadium, at $365 million), and while several of the newest parks were built for comparable reported figures ($515 million for Marlins Park, $522 million for Target Field), those were largely built in the depths of recession, while the Rays may face the rising prices of recovery.
Parker makes a great point: $500 million might not get that new, innovative, "state-of-the-art" stadium the Rays are looking for.  Not to mention, any parking garages, infrastructure improvements, and contract buyout would just increase the cost of the project.

The watchdog in me wants to keep an eye on public officials & stadium supporters who use "fuzzy math" to re-classify some of the related stadium costs to "infrastructure" or other public coffers.  It would give the appearance of taxpayers paying only $350 million (or whatever number) toward a new stadium when they could be paying tens - or hundreds - of millions in other related costs too.

Parker's post is a good one - you should check it out.

Secondly, it's also worth checking out this infographic from California's Pacific Standard magazine.  While the "How Los Angeles can beat the odds and make money off its stadium" concept may be better labeled "wishful thinking," it's interesting to see which cities got some of the best/worst deals on new stadiums.

It should be noted the graphic doesn't indicate the economic circumstances surrounding the biggest stadium success stories (San Francisco was tops, funded in the early '90s without a dime of public money).  But it's also interesting it ranks Charlotte as one of the worst victims of the subsidy game, since it paid for 100% of its new NBA arena in 2004. 

Wonder how much of that has to do with the fact that Charlotte seems to be a non-player at this time in the Rays' stadium saga.

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