Thursday, February 27, 2014

Gov. Scott to Arizona: We Can Outspend You on Spring Training!

What better way to combat a subsidy-seeking business conglomerate that has an anti-trust exemption than a little collusion collaboration of your own?

Instead, Florida Governor Rick Scott, appearing on MSNBC last night, declaring war against Arizona in the fight for spring training teams.  His message, "we can outspend you!"

Watch it here around the 10:00 mark:

I've always suggested Scott and Arizona's governor, Jan Brewer, who have been best buds at times, could just work together to end spring training subsidies to Major League Baseball.

That does nothing to dismiss the economic impact spring training delivers to Florida in the form of out-of-town visitors; it merely means Florida's governor and legislature have repeatedly chosen to subsidize an $8 billion business when they've had the chance to stop the insanity.

At this point, taxpayers can only hope local cities, counties, and states stop trying to outspend each other and lawmakers include spring training subsidies in their list of ridiculous handouts they plan on scrutinizing for the first time.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Arizona Loses Potential Law; Tampa Loses Potential Super Bowl

With Arizona's governor Jan Brewer's veto of a controversial law seen by many as anti-gay, the NFL avoids a potentially inflamatory situation with Super Bowl XLIX.  Sports Illustrated reported the league was considering a possible move from Arizona if the bill became law.

Of course, Arizona's potential gain is Tampa's potential loss, as the Cigar City, a perennial runner-up in the Super Bowl sweepstakes since 2009, was discussed as the logical frontrunner should the NFL leave the Copper State:
The league has begun reviewing the details of Tampa Bay's host bid of late 2011 and will take steps to put an accelerated relocation plan in place, should Arizona's SB 1062 become law and the league's owners vote to move the game. Tampa Bay is seen as the league's first option for the substitute host duties, but it is by no means the NFL's only potential site.
For more on Brewer's controversial veto, continue reading here.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Jays/Astros Palm Beach Ballpark Off; Clubs Go Scrambling for Subsidies

After plans fell apart for a new Blue Jays/Astros spring training stadium in Palm Beach Gardens, the Astros are now reportedly teaming up with the Nationals for a possible stadium in Lake Worth, also in Palm Beach County:
The Astros had wanted to share a complex in Palm Beach Gardens with the Toronto Blue Jays, but the Blue Jays told Palm Beach County officials last week that the team is no longer looking in the county because they’ve decided to stay in Dunedin.

“Toronto is no longer a player in this anymore, said Palm Beach County commissioner Hal Valeche, who is spearheading the county’s efforts to attract more teams for spring training.

The collapse of the Palm Beach Gardens stadium plan led to the Nationals-Astros pair-up.
It might be a bit presumptuous to assume the Jays' disinterest in Palm Beach County is because they're staying in Dunedin.

While their current contract runs through 2017, it is probably only a matter of months (or less) before they publicly flirt with the developer who wants to bring spring training to Wesley Chapel, or Pinellas County leaders, who have indicated they could possibly expand Brighthouse Field in Clearwater.

UPDATE: The Tampa Bay Times later reported Dunedin is trying to find a way to keep the Jays long-term, while the Blue Jays say Palm Beach County has "no right to speak for us." {link to Times' site}

UPDATE 2: The Tampa Tribune followed that up Thursday with a story on how the "Blue Jays likely to stay in Dunedin," based on the Dunedin mayor saying he's "starting to get more signals" the team may stick around after 2017.  Realizing they jumped to an awfully big conclusion, the Trib later changed its headline online to "Blue Jays may stay in Dunedin."

Monday, February 24, 2014

Could Tebow Return to Pro Football? In Tampa Bay?

It looks like plans to launch a national spring football league in the Spring of 2015 are moving forward (including a team in Tampa Bay), and the latest rumors involve none other than Tim Tebow:
The A-11 Football League is officially open for business and has scheduled its inaugural championship game for July Fourth weekend in 2015.
What is A-11? Unlike the NFL, there will be no numbering system. “All 11 offensive players will be eligible to receive the ball, depending on where they line up,” McKibben said. “Our offenses will be up-tempo, like Chip Kelly's (in Philadelphia) and the Broncos.”

The system would appear to be ideal for Tebow. “We would love to have Tim Tebow join our league. We have talked with his lawyer, and his agent, and we have made an offer,” which includes a piece of team ownership.
While all the franchises haven't been determined yet, there will definitely be teams in Tampa Bay, Dallas, New Jersey, Chicago, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay Area.  The Denver Post also reports "the A11FL will stage two “showcase” exhibitions this May and June at Raymond James Stadium and the Cotton Bowl between the Tampa Bay Bandits and the Dallas Wranglers."

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Sternberg, Kriseman Meet for Second Time

Just hours after he coyly told reporters he might have a little time to squeeze in some business in St. Pete, Rays principal owner Stu Sternberg reportedly met with Mayor Rick Kriseman Tuesday afternoon, just their second face-to-face meeting.

But the Tampa Bay Times reports Sternberg said the meeting was just "general in nature," with "nothing at all" decided {link to Times' site}.  That matches up with what the mayor said last week regarding a restart on stadium talks and a "very broad" intial approach.

The Times continues:
"At a point, yes,'' Sternberg said. "Right now I think, at my suggestion, he clearly has a lot to do - he's 40, 50 days in the door - this shouldn't be the first or second or fifth thing he focuses on. And it's such a large issue that he should be able to get a sense of who we are to the community and to the region and make some decisions based on that.''

After inquiries from the Times, Kriseman's office issued a statement Wednesday that said: "Mayor Kriseman and Rays leadership met on Tuesday to discuss the future of baseball in St. Petersburg and the Tampa Bay area. Both parties agreed that such talks, based on mutual trust and respect, should remain private and not distract from what is sure to be another exciting season of Rays Baseball.''
The good news seems to be Kriseman and Sternberg already agree on one thing: that the nosy press should just butt out.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Panthers Want New Handout Because Old Handout Wasn't Big Enough

You can make a stat say anything you want, but props to the Florida Panthers, who impressively claim they need $86 million in rent forgiveness to avoid losing tens of millions of dollars a year.

Of course, they could just ask the league for help, but as Neil deMause puts it, the Panthers "ain't 2 proud 2 beg."  The team wants the handout from Broward County without any trade-off in return:
[D]id somebody miss the part where Yormark and company wouldn’t actually be extending their lease at all in exchange for the added subsidies? The Panthers are contractually bound to Broward County through 2028, and would still be able to up and leave then even if they were awarded these rent breaks. So the reason for giving the team more tax money would be, I guess, that maybe if we’re real nice to them, we won’t make them mad?
This is an important lesson in how the entire cost of a stadium, as agreed to in a contract, is often not the entire cost of a stadium.  Time and time again, teams and leagues say, "sorry, we're turning a profit, but we'd like to turn a bigger one."  Just ask the Heat or the Timberwolves.

Sometimes, as with the Panthers or the Cleveland Browns, there isn't even an offer to extend their contract in exchange for the concessions.  SIDE NOTE: Broward Co.'s attorney said giving rent forgiveness would actually make it easier for the team to leave before the end of its contract, according to WPLG-TV.

Sometimes, teams actually pay for their upgrades themselves! (Buccaneers, Lightning)

But I'm still trying to find an example of a team offering to amend its contract in a way where it's the one making a voluntary concession to the city....

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Kriseman Says He's Focused on Rays' Future in St. Petersburg, Not Tampa

Rick Kriseman is starting to sound a lot like the Mayor of St. Petersburg. That is, he no longer sounds like the candidate looking to replace incumbant Bill Foster. Actually, now that he's taken office, he sounds a lot like Foster.

In an exclusive interview with WTSP/10 News, Kriseman said he's "not necessarily convinced" the Rays want to move to Tampa and he's looking forward to talking with team leaders "about what we can do collaboratively to increase attendance."
FLASHBACK NOV 2013: Kriseman says team done with St. Pete
FLASHBACK OCT 2013: Foster wants to increase Trop attendance
FLASHBACK FEB 2013: Kriseman wants a "regional dialogue"

"What can we do together to try and increase attendance?," Kriseman asked rhetorically.  "That has to be our first conversation before we even start talking about any moves here or there.  Because I am convinced we can make changes and make (the Rays) more successful here and I'd love to see them stay here in St Petersburg."

As predicted on this blog back in November, Kriseman is seemingly stuck between a rock and a hard place: he can appease the Rays and local editorial boards; or he can protect the city's bottom line and stand his ground on a contract that has 14 years remaining.

Kriseman reiterated his campaign promise to first look out for the city's interests in negotiations, but spoke little of how he might solve the four-year-long stalemate over the team's current contract, which runs through 2027.

Instead, Kriseman focused on four factors he said would help improve attendance over the next few years, including transit options, new businesses coming to St. Petersburg, convincing Tampa residents to cross the Howard-Frankland Bridge, and allowing teenage Rays fans to mature into young professionals who can buy more tickets.
FLASHBACK FEB 2013: Mayor Foster's four points on the Stadium Saga

Kriseman based much of his Tropicana Field hope on the passing of Greenlight Pinellas, which could bring improved bus and rail options to St. Pete and Pinellas County over the course of the next decade.  As well as a Hillsborough County connection, which could reduce many of the commuting stresses fans sometimes complain about.
FLASHBACK SEPT 2013: Kriseman campaigns on transit platform

The mayor also said he is looking to recruit new 500- or 1,000-employee companies to St. Pete's downtown, "so when 5 p.m. comes, people can leave business and go straight over to the stadium."

Convincing Hillsborough County residents to cross the bay may be a tougher task.

"We need to make the Howard-Frankland Bridge a two way-bridge," Kriseman said.  "(Pinellas residents) go over to Hillsborough County to attend Buccaneers games (and) Lightning games. We're not seeing the same level of support coming this way over, so I'd like to see us work with Hillsborough County and Tampa to get greater participation from its residents."
FLASHBACK MAY 2009: Tampa fans won't cross the bridge
FLASHBACK JAN 2013: Mayors lament fans who won't cross the bridge

Kriseman's final factor for improving attendance at The Trop is simply giving young fans time to grow up.

"You look at the age of the franchise, we are just getting to the point where in the next three-to-five years, (a) child who has grown up with the Rays (will be) old enough to buy their own season tickets.  We're not there yet, but we're only two-to-three years away from it."

Kriseman said he didn't know when he'd get to discuss the Rays' stadium campaign with team executives, but team owner Stu Sternberg said Tuesday morning he'd be in Florida through Thursday and indicated he may have some free time for stadium discussions.  He also talked about potentially keeping David Price through 2015 as well as the Rays' payroll bump from $62 million last year {link to Times' site}.

Is There Really a New Game Plan for Stadium-Building?

Some good reading out of Orlando recently, as columnist Scott Maxwell points out something that shouldn't come as a surprise to many (but does): "Orlando's sports deals: Numbers don't always add up." 

Long and short of it, the mayor's stuff tucked some big-time subsidies into an agenda where nobody would (presumably) notice them:
[T]he Solar Bears deal lets the team keep $389,000 more in concession revenues and licensing fees — money that currently goes to the city. The city also agreed to give the team a $100,000 "advertising payment" each year for the next two years.
Yet part of the staff-provided summary described the financial impact as "$0."
[T]he impact to the city's budget was big, probably well in excess of $500,000 — all to help the Magic and Solar Bears.  And no one on the council made a peep.
It's yet to be seen how outraged Orlando city councilmembers will (or won't) be about the appearant circumvention, but there's still hope in Central Florida that municipalities may one day turn the corner on return on investment with stadium subsidies.

A few weeks ago, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recapped how an Orange Co. commissioner demanded (so far unsuccessfully) to get a cut of pro sports revenues if taxpayers were paying for a large cut of the cost.

The article summed up how pro teams got increasingly better at blackmailing leveraging municipalities:
What was new about this trend that started in the '90s, however, is that the public return on the investments began to shrink. Rent payments dwindled while construction and capital maintenance costs skyrocketed, and teams dumped their old stadiums in favor of new ones with more revenue-producing opportunities, such as suites and high-tech scoreboards.

Yet the investments continued, partly because politicians did not want to be blamed when teams left town and partly because government officials wanted a project that conveyed progress.
And how economic impact numbers typically "forget" that sports spending isn't necessarily new spending:
The Steelers contend that tax payments to city, county and state governments are on track to more than pay back the public investment. Most economists, though, say that tax revenue would be realized regardless because entertainment dollars are fungible -- if people aren't spending their dollars at football stadiums, they are spending their money at restaurants and movie theaters.

"Such promotional studies overstate the economic impact of a facility because they confuse gross and net economic effects," economists Roger Noll and Andrew Zimbalist wrote in a 1997 report. "Most spending inside a stadium is a substitute for other local recreational spending, such as movies and restaurants. Similarly, most tax collections inside a stadium are substitutes: as other entertainment businesses decline, tax collections from them fall."
Neil deMause, of Field of Schemes fame, was quoted in the article, but actually made much more poignant points in a Sports on Earth column on fan-owned teams, "Ditch the Owners."  Read it, you'll especially enjoy the part where the NFL passed a rule prohibiting other not-for-profit entitites from owning teams like the Packers.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Breaking News: "Sports Venue Costs Can Scalp Taxpayers"

It wasn't an anti-stadium was merely a pro-watchdog story.  The cover story in Sunday's Tampa Tribune, "Sports venue costs can scalp taxpayers," is an important contribution to the public understanding of the questions that need to be asked before public funds are spent on stadiums for millionaires:
[T]eams have started playing down financial benefits to cities and states. Instead, they talk about “intangibles,” such as boosting civic pride, or what’s now called “community self-esteem.”

“Sports has this sort of cultural aura,” (author Rick Eckstein) said. “If this was public financing for a supermarket, there wouldn’t be the same support around it. Sports has a hold on us.”
The story didn't really uncover any big developments, but it did point out the Rays have yet to hire a Tallahassee lobbyist...and may need to eventually.  Most public officials declined comment, although it's unclear if it was due to loyalty to the Rays or St. Petersburg's threat of interference.

The one thing the article failed to mention is why politicians always feel compelled to spend tax dollars on stadia (its for the parties, duh). Fortunately, Yahoo Sports has that covered.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Report: Two Teams Talking Spring Training with Pasco Co.

Expect some more headlines after Pasco Co. officials rub elbows with MLB owners tonight, with hopes of bringing spring training to Wesley Chapel.

My WTSP colleague Casey Cumley reports the developer behind the Wiregrass Ranch baseball complex has spoken to at least two MLB teams.

"The reason I say 'two' is because we've reached out to more than two, but active discussions have occurred with two," developer James Talton said.

Talton and the county are touting $78 million in economic impact from the facility, even without spring training.  Of course, it will receive public subsidies.

But if the focus of the complex really is youth teams and tournaments, there are two important questions:
  1. Where did that often-repeated, yet seldom-cited $78 million number come from?
  2. How much of that $78 million will be pirated from Hillsborough & Pinellas County?
Building new ballfields doesn't create new travel teams, but it does reduce the demand on neighboring counties' facilities.  Inter-county competition can sometimes be a good thing.  But encouraging cities to compete against each other to offer the biggest spring training subsidies - then pouring even more state money into the pot - is not a good thing.

As it stands, expect the Pasco Co. developers to seek more subsidies so they can try and land one of the four spring training teams courting suitors right now.  And, expect some of the teams to play Pasco much the way the Cubs played Collier Co. in 2010.

Tampa Councilmembers Renounce Stadium Rumors

Tampa's city council discussed this morning what to do with $100-$150 million in possible funding after its convention center bonds are paid off in 2015.  And as Richard Danielson reports {link to Times' site}, a lot of hands were held out...except the Rays':
"There's been a lot of speculation about those available funds," Yvonne Yolie Capin said, noting that she's getting media inquiries about the "Rays baseball money." "The perception that it is designated is out there."
Representatives of the Tampa Theatre, Tampa Museum of Art and David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts noted to the council that they operate out of city-owned buildings. They said they could use the city's help as they make repairs and updates to their facilities.
Oh, and a school board member was there too!
Hillsborough School Board member Candy Olson urged council members not to put off repairs to buildings owned by the public. The School District hasn't always maintained its buildings as well as it should, she said, and it learned some hard lessons.

"It wasn't pretty," she said. "It was very disruptive and it was much more costly than it needed to be."

In response, one of Buckhorn's top aides told the council that it's not like these groups don't get any money from the city...over the last 10 years, the city has provided about $32 million in financial support to the Straz Center, said Bob McDonaugh, Buckhorn's economic opportunity administrator.
While a possible baseball stadium was barely mentioned during the workshop, it was clear several members (as previously reported here) are lining up against the idea:
"Not one dime," Frank Reddick said earlier this week. Taxpayers, he suggested, are leery about their money going to facilities that benefit rich sports team owners.
And don't forget, the county may want to claim its half of that available general revenue back once the convention center is paid off.

Nothing was decided today, and we can expect many more months of debate.  Actually, years, but "months" works better with alliteration.

Regardless, quote of the day comes from longtime councilman Charlie Miranda.

"Council has never been talking about a stadium," Miranda said.  "We've never talked to no mayor in St. Petersburg about a stadium; we never talked to an owner of a baseball team across the bay about a stadium; we haven't done anything. So all this is rumor and speculation that has been created in an era of 'whoa, whoa, what's happening here?'  Forget about what happened somewhere else, worry about your own house."

Romano Indicates Rays Stadium Should Be at Forefront of Bed Tax Discussions

John Romano delved into the how the Stadium Saga stalemate was impacting future decisions on bed taxes this morning {link to Times' site}:
Is Pinellas County preparing to get out of the business of Major League Baseball?

"It's not like an official decision has been made," {Commissioner Charlie} Justice said Wednesday. "It just seems like the thought of spending any of that money on a stadium has been pushed to the background. No one has said that; it's more an observation I've made."
There are 14 seasons remaining on the use agreement at Tropicana Field, but the clock on stadium decisions has always run a little faster than many have realized.
Pinellas County's payment obligations at Tropicana Field will end in a couple of years, and a handful of groups are lining up to claim the tourism dollars that will suddenly be available. There's a similar situation in Hillsborough, where Tampa Convention Center debts will soon be paid off, and various eyeballs are beginning to focus on that windfall.
If you remember back a year ago, it was actually the Rays that encouraged Pinellas County to more or less "move on" past baseball because Tropicana Field land could be more valuable without a stadium there.  Ironic.

And a few months ago, I reported that Pinellas Co. might be leaning more toward spending money on spring training stadia than a new home for the Rays, since they seem to be on the "Tampa or Bust" train.

But Romano made it clear - via his conclusion that "one of these days, time will no longer be on our side" - that spending bed tax money on the Rays (either in Pinellas or Hillsborough) should be a priority and the discussion needs to happen sooner, rather than later.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

House Speaker Will Weatherford: No New Stadium ‘Checks’ This Year

Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, has never been a fan of pro sports handouts, but repeated his disdain on Wednesday.  The News Service of Florida reports:
Weatherford expects the House to craft legislation this year that would redefine the process for the owners of the multimillion-dollar facilities to apply for money.

"Our focus right now is on a process that treats everyone equitably and not writing any checks," Weatherford said during an interview with The News Service of Florida in his Capitol office.     

That means Daytona International Speedway may have to wait another year --- until Weatherford is out of office --- on its request for help with a major renovation project, and the same could be true for anticipated funding requests for a recently granted Major League Soccer franchise in Orlando and a soccer club proposed for Miami.
"If you want to come to the state of Florida, and you want to participate and be a partner with the state of Florida, you have to prove that there is a return on investment," Weatherford said, referring to the process he wants to require. "You have to go through the process with the Department of Economic Opportunity just like everybody else does that wants to create jobs in Florida."
Florida currently spends approx. $2 million a year in general revenue dollars on each of eight stadiums across the state, including Tropicana Field.  Even if The Trop is in St. Petersburg, not Tampa, as the article suggests.

Spring Training Subsidies Not Subsiding Anytime Soon

Interesting how much spring training has changed over the years.  As the City of St. Petersburg marks 100 years of spring ball, the industry has never been more controversial. 

It's not just the Astros, Blue Jays, and Brewers seeking stadium subsidies in Florida...don't forget about the Nationals too!  According to Field of Schemes, the Nationals' plans to move to Ft. Myers have hit roadblocks, "aka nobody will open their damn wallets":
Now, writes the Post, the Nationals have “few known options.” Aside from, hmm, let’s see, staying at their existing spring training site that’s only 21 years old, or, if being a long bus ride from other teams’ facilities is such a huge deal-breaker, maybe building a new spring training site with some of their own money. But those aren’t “solutions” in the mind of team execs, so far be it from the Post to mention them, either.
I often bring up the same "solutions" when people ask how to "solve" the Rays' problems of only turning 8-digit annual profits.

There was also the article out of Arizona titled, "Spring-Training Stadiums Are a Bad Investment, Yet No One Cares."  The article contended spring training parks are no better investment than traditional year-round MLB parks.  I might actually disagree with that, since spring training subsidies are typically lower and typically attract out-of-towners in ways that regular MLB games in Florida or Arizona don't.  But there still doesn't stand any reason MLB teams shouldn't pay for the bulk of their own spring training facilities.

Gov. Scott should know he can end the spring training stadium subsidy game...if he only wanted to...

And let us not forget how the Cubs played Naples for a fool in 2010, only to get a $99 million handout in Mesa. 

Finally, spring training subsidies will continue to make headlines in Florida this week as the governor's annual Grapefruit League welcome dinner takes place tomorrow night at Tropicana Field.

In attendance: Pasco Co. officials, who now want to build their first spring training complex at Wiregrass Ranch.

Congressional Candidates "Debate" Rays' Future

An interesting (but ultimately irrellevant) tidbit from my WTSP colleague Preston Rudie, covering the special election in Florida's 13th Congressional District, which

Rudie - via Saint Petersblog - reports Republican David Jolly wants to keep the Rays in Pinellas Co., while Democrat Alex Sink is open to a Hillsborough Co. stadium. 

"Let’s figure out where to put it so we that we can keep the team in the area,” Sink told Rudie.

Congress will likely never voice in on the future of the Rays, but one Pinellas Co. Comissioner (a Democrat) had a snarky response to Jolly's comments:

Monday, February 10, 2014

Times Dashes Hopes of Vinik Stadium Dreamers

If the feedback on this site is any indication, there is a large number of Rays fans hoping Lightning owner Jeffrey Vinik, Rays owner Stu Sternberg, and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn have a secret room filled with beautiful renderings for a new baseball stadium.  Of course, these secret plans come with secret financing too.

But my repeated warnings aside, the Tampa Bay Times wrote a comprehensive analysis this weekend that should all but end the conspiracy theories that the Stadium Saga will magically work itself out:
Might Vinik offer up a big chunk of real estate so Sternberg can have a new home?

In recent interviews with the Tampa Bay Times, Mayor Bob Buckhorn expressed doubts.
A quick summary:
  • Moving the Rays to Tampa could hurt Lightning attendance because the immediate Tampa metro may not have enough businesses & disposable income for three pro teams.
  • A stadium that hosts 81 games a year may not be the highest-and-best use of valuable downtown land that could otherwise host entertainment, commercial, or residential facilities.
  • "Mid-sized market teams typically pay little or no rent to the stadium owner," re-emphacizing the concept that those who pay for stadiums seldom profit from them.
  • 81 baseball games a year could create scheduling conflicts in an already-congested downtown.
  • One of Tampa's biggest opportunities for downtown synergy is by replacing the ConAgra flour mill will with something that drives more economy.
Actually, a lot of those suggestions overlap with this Oct '12 post:
Also interesting - in addition to the $400-$600 million cost of a stadium and the possible $50-$100 million cost to compensate St. Pete for the remaining years of its contract - the Times reports that acquiring the ConAgra site could cost the city "$60 million to $80 million, a big add-on to a stadium."

There was also another clarification on Hillsborough Commissioner Ken Hagan's "no public dollars" for a stadium pledge.  The Times article states the conservative Republican now says general revenue dollars for a stadium (via a CRA/TIF) could be justified "as long as it did not lead to new property taxes."

Meanwhile, there has been few public comments from Vinik, who is still seen as the knight in shining armor who could help move the Rays to Tampa.  A minority owner of the Red Sox, Vinik just seems to be more focused on making Channelside and Channelside Bay Plaza into a year-round entertainment & event center than he does focused on anything to do with baseball.

Oh, and lets not forget St. Pete still hasn't given the Rays permission to talk to Tampa about stadium seems mayor Rick Kriseman is trying to meet up with Sternberg to chat this week.

The best long-term resolution to replacing Tropicana Field still remains a regional, multi-county effort that would minamalize the financial impact to taxpayers by spreading it out across a large base.  Of course, that is only if taxpayers decided helping to finance a stadium was in their best interests...and if only turning "modest" profits in the seven-to-eight-figure range annually really is a "problem" to begin with.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Beckham Says He'll Bring MLS to Miami without Public Funding

From today's AP article on David Beckham exercising his option for a MLS franchise in Miami:
"We don't want public funding," Beckham said to applause. "We will fund the stadium ourselves. We have worked very hard to get to this stage where we can fund the stadium ourselves. We want to create a football club that is the people's football club."
Miami city officials reportedly want the stadium downtown, so it is yet to be seen what land will be targeted - and who will pay for it.

Super Bowl XLVIII Economic Wrap-Up

Some people will never believe the reporting on Super Bowl economic impact (or lack thereof).  Even though media outlets have no axe to grind...and economists have no axe to grind....facts can be the most stubborn things.

This week, apparently bored by the lack of action on field in East Rutherford, we saw an outpouring of coverage for "the true benefit" of a Super Bowl.

From Meghan Barr with the Associated Press:
Kate Martin, general manager of the Hotel Chandler in midtown Manhattan, said the hotel was only 50 percent booked during Super Bowl weekend, with fewer than usual bookings lined up for the week preceding the game.

"All of the anticipation and the hype about what this was going to bring for hotels in New York City has not materialized," she said.
"You can't say that a Super Bowl is going to put New York on the map," he said.
From Crain's New York:
“The Super Bowl probably didn’t generate the $500 million in economic activity that the host committee claimed based on a study that wasn’t credible enough to be released.”
From Neil deMause on Sports on Earth:
[T]he state of New York alone will spend $5 million on advertising for Super Bowl-related events, leaving the only benefit as … advertising New York City as a place that's brutally cold in the winter?
Neil, don't forget all the free advertising New Jersey got for its transit problems!  Oh good, you didn't.

Oh, and turns out hard look at the tangible effects of a major event works for the Olympics too.  NPR posted a couple of interesting stories on the post-Olympic ugliness in Athens and London:
"Most countries end up with a lot of debt, a lot of white elephants, and quite a bit of infrastructure investment that is not ideal for the type of development needs that the city has," says Andy Zimbalist, a professor of economics at Smith College in Northampton, Mass.

Zimbalist says this is a direct result of the way Olympic bidding works.

The International Olympic Committee pits one city against another. In each city, construction and architecture firms that stand to profit from the games push local leaders to make higher bids and more ambitious plans.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Spring Training Subsidies Largely Ignored in Trib

For those that missed it on the cover of Thursday's Tampa Tribune, apparently Spring Training is big buisiness:
But the issue of whether spring training's changing dynamics are becoming more positive or negative for the fans and their communities depends on who's talking.

“Baseball needs to start giving back more to the fans,” said Kevin Schauer, general manager of Lenny's breakfast and lunch restaurant near U.S. 19 and Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard in Clearwater. 
Schauer is bullish on the management acumen and intentions of the executives of the ballclubs with which he works. He acknowledges their obvious economic impact on his restaurant business and on hotels, other retail outlets that fans and players patronize and considerable behind the scenes philanthropy.
There wasn't much examination of whether all the recent subsidies for spring training teams are a good thing or bad thing, but for a little more background on the future of Spring Training in Tampa Bay, read this recent post about the possibility of expanding Brighthouse Field in Clearwater.