This morning, after he held a "ceremonial" signing for a bill that allowed the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros to move forward with a lucrative trip on the spring stadium subsidy train, the Governor's office released the following quote:
“Spring training and Major League Baseball are a major reason why Florida continues to welcome record numbers of tourists. Last year almost 99 million people visited Florida - and we’re on pace for even more visitors this year. With the Nationals and Astros announcing their spring training operations will remain in Florida for the next 30 years, and the news that our state will host the MLB All Star Game in 2017, it’s clear that Florida is the number one state for baseball in the country.”I'm guessing this blog's readers have plenty of opinions on the "number one state for baseball" comment...but let's humor the governor for a moment and acknowledge that the Grapefruit League draws a lot of visitors to the Sunshine State each spring.
The bigger problem with his quote is his guarantee that the Nats and Astros will remain in their $135 million stadium for 30 years. If you're of the belief the Rays' contract isn't perfectly ironclad, you certainly don't believe a spring training deal is ironclad....
That's because last year, Governor Scott signed a bill making it easier for Florida's spring training teams to break their leases. It was nothing more than a giveaway to powerful franchise-owners by specifically limiting their damages if they break their spring training leases. Scott has repeatedly dodged my questions about pro teams' reliance on taxpayer subsidies.
Of course, two years ago, I wrote Scott should have cut a deal with Arizona to stop the spring stadium arms race where the only winners are MLB teams and the only losers are taxpayers. How hard would it be for the two states that host all 30 spring training stadiums to agree to simply stop the handouts?
Apparently very hard, because...jobs! And photo opportunities!!
NOW: Spring training baseball moving forward in Palm Beach County. @FLGovScott in West Palm Beach to sign bill. pic.twitter.com/4QknL8dD1Y— Chris McGrath (@wpbf_chrismcg) July 6, 2015
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