Sunday, March 30, 2014

Is Florida Building Too Many Baseball Fields?

Great Michael Sasso story today in the Tampa Tribune exploring the return on investment of youth sports facilities:
Developers and government leaders in the Tampa area are pitching at least four such proposals that together could cost up to $80 million.

Two are indoor volleyball/basketball arenas, one is a soccer complex and one a mammoth 19-field baseball field complex in Pasco County.

Meanwhile, community leaders nationwide are building $15 million to $25 million youth parks in hopes of luring traveling baseball, soccer and volleyball teams, their parents and ultimately jobs.

But, to paraphrase a line from “Field of Dreams,” what happens if you build it and no one comes?

A year after opening, Nations Park has hosted only two major tournaments and is preparing for a third. The mayor charges that the developer misled the city, and City Commission candidates use it as a campaign talking point.
In short, the state may be suffering from oversaturation: why the 50th youth complex in Florida won't bring nearly as many (if any) additional teams and economic benefit as the 1st youth complex built.

Likewise, the same goes with entertainment options.  MLB and MLS boosters can tout economic benefits of a stadium all day long, but in a state with no shortage of entertainment options, much of the "economy created" is really just pirated from other local venues.

For that reason, I actually like Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn's approach that a stadium is more about a "comprehensive downtown" than "economic stimulus."  But I digress...
(Don Schumacher, head of the National Association of Sports Commissions) hass been cautioning that too many feasibility studies are overly optimistic.

“You can’t find two economics professors in the United States that can agree on economic impact,” he said.
Least surprising quote ever. 

Here's the runner-up:
When asked how many communities in Florida are considering building sports facilities to lure tournaments, Clearwater-based sports marketing consultant Dev Pathik said, “I can’t think of anyone that’s not.”
Well, I know one that's not...

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