Thursday, December 28, 2017

The "Template" Hillsborough Wants to Use for a Rays Ballpark is Breaking the Bank in Georgia

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution took a look at what Cobb Co. residents are paying - and getting in return - for the Braves' new stadium.  And the numbers aren't pretty, as Field of Schemes succinctly summarizes.

Basically, Cobb Co.'s absolute best, most liberal accounting scenario is a $5.2 million boost in revenue related to the ballpark.  Unfortunately for taxpayers, they're paying nearly $9 million a year out of their general fund for the stadium, plus tens of millions a year in associated financing costs, and tens of millions more in transportation costs associated with the stadium.

That's not good ROI to simply lure the team from an Atlanta home they weren't threatening to leave.

And the kicker, is that Cobb County just doesn't have that kind of money available:
Cobb County is currently in a fiscal crisis — as Lutz notes, “Since the first pitch in April, fees for everything from senior centers to business licenses have gone up. Libraries are in danger of closing, and there’s talk of a new penny sales tax to fund the police.” None of that is solely the fault of the stadium, as she notes, but starting each year with an extra $20 million-plus hole in your budget does not help at all.
Let's remember that the Rays' biggest stadium cheerleader in Tampa, Ken Hagan, has called the Braves' secretly-negotiated, more-expensive-than-anticipated stadium a "template" for a new ballpark in Hillsborough County.
There is no price too great for some politicians to get a new stadium where they'll eventually get free tickets.

And not to dismiss the certain intangible value of having big-league teams in your community...but out leaders really should be asking more questions about the ROI on the Rays' nine-figure "ask."

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  2. Except the stadiums that aren't: