Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Stadium Subsidy ROI: Rich for Teams; Poor for Taxpayers

Floridians aren't quite paying enough attention to what's happening in North Texas, as the city of Arlington moves forward with a $519M referendum for a modern Rangers stadium to replace their existing modern Rangers stadium...because we are now learning baseball in hot climates requires a roof.

By all accounts, Arlington is overpaying to avoid the scary thought of possibly "losing" the Rangers to Dallas, just 30 minutes away....even though there doesn't appear to be a lot of indication relocation was either imminent or likely.  Oh, and the team's owners are billionaire oil magnates.

Tip o' the hat to my investigative counterparts at WFAA-TV for doing great watchdog work on a lease that has seven more years left on it. 
Regardless of what you think about Arlington's plan, it's a great reminder that nobody can make money by building a stadium - that's why teams rely on the public to do it for them.  Neil deMause points out "we’re already looking at Arlington putting down at least $519 million for a return of at most $60 million."

Basically, a city of Arlington analysis showed its investment would generate more tax dollars without new Texas Rangers stadium.

Sound familiar Tampa Bay?

It should - it echoes the exact thing Rays owner Stu Sternberg told St. Pete a year ago: that it's in the taxpayers' "best interest to get the (Trop) land back" and redevelop it as something other than baseball.

And devout readers of this blog will remember my post about how much economic activity Tampa might lose if it were to spend tax dollars on a new stadium downtown (using the Tampa Bay Times' own fuzzy math):

Also worth noting: a recent study in San Diego puts the ROI on that city's proposed stadium/convention center at just three cents on the dollar!

And, if you need any more evidence that stadiums don't generate profits and are only called "public" facilities so they can avoid paying property and construction taxes....Maricopa County is selling off the Diamondbacks' ballpark - lock, stock, & barrel - for only $60 million dollars, a fraction of what the stadium cost to build 18 years ago.

That's a pretty crappy return on your real estate investment during a period when the franchise's value has grown exponentially.  But the politicians out in the desert may actually have a pretty decent idea about cutting their losses.

It's a much better idea than, say, fighting with the public when you need their support for a stadium referendum:

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  1. When you look at the Texas Rangers highest paid players for the current year, it becomes totally laughable that they have the hubris to ask for any money at all from the taxpayers.

    They have 5 players with $100 million or greater contracts, whose combined pay for the 2016 season is $111 million ($85 million being paid by the Rangers as the Los Angles Angels of Anaheim are paying all but $2 million of Josh Hamilton’s salary).

    Those five players are:
    • Cole Hamels - $23.5 million – having a very good season
    • Prince Fielder - $24 million – his career is over but will be paid $107 million remaining on his contract
    • Shin-soo Choo - $20 million – out for season
    • Elvis Andrus - $15.25 million – having a good season
    • Josh Hamilton - $28.4 million – out for entire 2016 season

    Yet, amazingly, even with all this wasted payroll money, the Texas Rangers are in 1st place in the AL Central Division in a virtual tie for the best record in the entire AL! If the rocket scientist Texas Rangers’ executives who sign these stupid long term contracts could be replaced by competent people, the Rangers could pay for a new stadium anytime they wanted, as It costs just $57 million per year at 30 years/4% to pay for a $1 billion stadium.

    1. You still yapping about stuff you don't really know about?

    2. How much will the Rangers benefit the community you live in?

  2. How do professional sports teams benefit a community, more than a community could benefit itself without a professional sports team? The answer is easy. Professional sports teams don't benefit the community. It's all a myth. It's a lie that's been perpetuated by the media and sports team owners.

    1. Tell that to the Montreal Children Hospital that will receive $10M+ in donation from PK Subban and his donations events. And to all the hospitals in the province that received free PET/CT Scanners from Saku Koivu donations and support for donations.

      References will be posted if requested.

    2. Pat, great example though facts of reality don't apply to NOah & his disciples here...

    3. Hi B. Dufala,
      How much will the Montreal Canadiens players' contributions benefit the community you live in?

    4. So the owner donates "10m+ to a hospital. What about the fact that a stadium would cost taxpayers 700m+? Of course the owner will donate $10m, it's nothing compared the contribution the taxpayers made. You need your head examined if you can't see the obvious scam here. Just like B. Dufala, he becomes orgasmic at the thought of spending other people's money.

    5. Hi Anonymous@August 24, 2016 at 8:31 PM

      You raise great points. In Tampa a big deal was made about Bryan Glazer donating $4 million last year to the Jewish Community Center. Meanwhile, the Bucs have raised ticket prices 24% for the 2016 season, which, if attendance does not decline from last year's levels, will generate another $9 million to go into the Glazers' pockets.

      Nor has it been mentioned that the Glazers now contribute significantly less over the last few years to the Glazer Family Foundation.

      Nor, has the media pointed out that when Darcie Glazer Kassewitz bought the 'castle' in Avila for $5.6 million from BofA, that BofA was $10.5 million in the hole. Who gets to pick up the tab for the $4 million that BofA lost? Why the folks that get to pay $30 per month for their checking accounts and $35 for a bounced check, that's who.

    6. Do I have to say that Montreal Canadiens paid 100% of the Bell Center (maybe some city tax reductions but not much) and Habs are investing another $100M in the next few years to upgrade the Bell Center.

      I know this is the exception (compared to what is done throughout the US) but that's our reality. Players/teams are investing time and money in the community, minimal investments are done by the governments/cities.

      Overall, taxpayers ROI is more than positive so far.

      P.S. FYI, this is an interesting strategy to finance mass transportation and larger infrastructure projects. CDPQ Infra is using it in Montreal to finance partially the $5.5G Electric Light Train (REM). Copenhagen used this strategy to finance their train too. When a train station/line is developed with a sport stadium next to it, such Land Value Capture (LVC) methods can help finance those projects.


  3. Especially relevant given that more and more people are staying home to watch sports on their flat screen.

  4. Montreal won't be getting a MLB team. They blew it the first time. You can take that to the bank!

    1. A warm Salute to you, denial banker, from "Nos Amours 2.0"!

      Stay Tuned! ;)

    2. There's no such thing as great bankers or investment brokers....if they were so good about knowing what was going to happen with the market, they wouldn't be working for you :)

    3. Stayed tuned for....Wait for it.........Montreal not getting a MLB team! You can take that to the bank!