Monday, September 26, 2016

How Badly Did the Blue Jays Just Walk All Over Dunedin?

The public get its first chance tonight to speak up on the just-released $81M spring training stadium deal the Toronto Blue Jays squeezed out of the good folks in Dunedin's city hall.  Of course, the deal was done behind-closed-doors (at the request of the team)...and it's the latest example of why small cities should NEVER go it alone against the MLB behemoth...and it could also impact the Rays' hopes for a new stadium too.

But the Dunedin plan still needs the approval of the Pinellas Commission, which will be asked to foot $46 million of the bill through bed tax collections.  It may not be the most popular deal among the county's influential hotel/tourism interests, either.

The public subsidy is approx. 14 times the initial 1990 pricetag for the Jays' spring training home, even when factoring in inflation, and it comes on top of the additional $12 million the park got in 2000, also mostly paid by the county and state taxpayers.

This blog has detailed how, yes, spring training brings tourist dollars to town...but never anywhere close to as many as teams claim:
A 2013 Blue Jays spring training economic impact report - commissioned by the City of Dunedin, which is trying to get county funds to upgrade the Jays' facilities - claimed $80 million in annual economic impact. 

However, the report uses questionable methods to get to that number, including trying to take responsibility for the spending of 25,000 out-of-state visitors who acknowledged they were in Florida primarily for something other than baseball.
Now, the city did include a new 2016 economic impact report in tonight's presentation...but does it use the same faulty logic?  And who paid for it? 

Here's the full report - no mention of who paid for it (I later found the city & team split the cost).  It also seems the study may not have accounted for the fact that FANS MAY ATTEND MORE THAN ONE GAME.  Yet, it seems to count nearly every ticket purchased as a unique visitor coming to Dunedin to spend money.

In fact, according to at least one academic observer, the Dunedin study may have counted the economic impact from the same fans up to 6-8 times.

You at least have to ask why taxpayers should foot the bill for a billion-dollar industry that fails to bring high-wage jobs to town....especially since the Jays, who have never trained anywhere except Dunedin, were not considered a threat to leave Florida.  And the Tigers just agreed to stay put in Lakeland for only $37 million(ish).  And Pinellas could have probably expanded Bright House Field into a two-team complex for a lot less money.

But then again, Governor Scott signed a bill that made it easier for MLB teams to extort Florida communities.....and everyone else is blowing budgets on why not Pinellas too?   Not like there are other hungry mouths chomping at the bed tax bit...

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1 comment:

  1. As taxpaying residences in the communities that are affected by these big multibillion dollar sports teams we should deserve and demand that any costly proposals put forth by these big businesses be put up for a public referendum vote since there are more important things beyond big business pro sports that need to be addressed in our communities and states.