Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Sarasota: "Braves Stadium Will Totally Pay for Itself, Trust Us!"

When Sarasota County's director of economic development, Jeff Maultsby, told a group of journalists Monday that a $21+ million investment in a new Braves spring training stadium would pay for itself with new tourism revenues, my 10News WTSP colleague, photojournalist Tim Burquest, decided to ask where he got the return-on-investment information.

This is what happened next:

Maultsby struggled to answer a series of questions on the topic, and when Burquest made a request Monday for the public documents that would contain such tourism revenue projections, none were produced. On Tuesday, the county informed us that no such documents existed.

Maultsby suggested during the Monday press conference that a new Braves stadium would draw more Georgia tourists, who might typically frequent the Panhandle, down to Sarasota County. The $75 million stadium hinges on the state contributing $20 million, which might not be the easiest sell, especially to lawmakers who may

RELATED: Why you should never believe an economic impact report

10Investigates has been fighting for public records and transparency for months, which may have helped the county preserve some taxpayer leverage in the recently-announced stadium deal.

You can read other spring training-related documents on Sarasota County's website here.

But one document you won't find on the county's site is the guarantee that the Orioles will build their promised Cal Ripken Jr. youth baseball academy, as promised when they got tens of millions in stadium subsidies from the county in 2009.  That's because the county failed to get it in writing.  The academy was never built.

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1 comment:

  1. Georgia residents visiting Northport instead of the Florida panhandle isn't going to do anything to increase state revenues to offset the expected contribution of $20 million of state money.