Sunday, May 26, 2013

Fla. Cities Fearing Side Effects of Spring Subsidies

Echoing a Shadow of the Stadium post from a few months back, the News Service of Florida reports local leaders are starting to panic about the unintended consequences (or intended, depending on whom you ask) of Florida's new laws making it easier for baseball teams to get publicly-paid spring training stadiums.

What else did you expect?
"I know the state wants to keep spring training teams here in the state, but when you look at it from purely a local level, we want to keep that team here in our community. They've been here for a long time," [Dunedin Chamber of Commerce President Lynn] Wargo said. "The Jays are only a few blocks out of our downtown. When there is a game here, the town is packed; the businesses are packed; the restaurants are packed."

Similar concerns have been expressed in Melbourne and Kissimmee, where moves by teams have been seen as more inevitable.

Brevard County Commission Chairman Andy Anderson has said the law will create a "free-for-all."
Basically, the state of Florida is now bankrolling a silent auction between its cities (just what the blueprint calls for).

Florida taxpayers will eventually spend hundreds of millions of dollars for new spring stadiums for teams like the Blue Jays and Nationals that would have never left the Grapefruit League anyway.  Not to mention MLB teams don't exactly need handouts these days.  Not to mention the state already has empty spring training stadiums looking for teams.

Sure, fans will get some new stadiums to enjoy.  But let's not pretend tourism numbers are going to explode when the Astros get a new stadium.  And let's not forget Gov. Rick Scott could have prevented these businesses teams from playing the Arizona card for a lot less money if he really wanted.

UPDATE: The Cardinal Nation Blog points out Florida spent $43 million on spring training retention since 2010, but three of the teams have already moved, two of them to Arizona

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