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Ballparks > fire departments

Nov 5, 2010, 5:04 PM EDT

There’s a story in the Wall Street Journal today talking about how municipalities are less eager to fund ballpark projects now than they used to be. Convenient, I guess, in that nearly every major league and AAA baseball team in America has gotten a new park in the last 20 years or so, but whatever.

The counterexample is that spring training complex voters just approved for the Cubs in Mesa, Arizona. Nice quote from the the Mesa City Manager defending the spending priority:

City Manager Christopher Brady said the Cubs bring $130 million annually to Arizona, drawing fans who then spend money on hotels and rental cars.

“If we put money into, say, a fire department, it would be gone,” he said. “This way we leverage the investment.”

No reaction quote from the Mesa Fire Department on that one, surprisingly enough.  But then again, maybe they’re slaves to the quaint notion that a municipality’s primary purpose is to provide basic services like police and fire protection, schools, libraries, utilities and the like to their citizens and don’t understand just how important it is to build a training facility for an Illinois-based corporation worth three quarters of a billion dollars.

  1. JBerardi - Nov 5, 2010 at 5:30 PM

    This would be mildly amusing if state and local governments weren’t actually cutting back on fire, police, teachers, etc like crazy all over the country. Given that reality, though, it’s just another grotesque reminder that most Americans today wouldn’t know good governance if it walked up and gave them free heath care for life.

  2. schlom - Nov 5, 2010 at 8:06 PM

    Well unfortunately it’s not an either/or proposition. In reality, if they didn’t spend that money on the Cubs spring training complex it would be wasted on administrators, staff, etc. That’s the real mess they need to clean up first (not that I’m defending in any way spending taxpayer money instead of the Cubs money).

    • JBerardi - Nov 5, 2010 at 9:03 PM

      Huh? The Cubs money came out of their “waste this money on admin and staff” fund? I don’t understand what you’re saying…

  3. willmose - Nov 6, 2010 at 7:16 AM

    The billionaire ownership of Cubs thank the people of AZ for putting money his pocket. We can only hope that tourists watching the Cubbies aren’t beheaded or kidnapped by the illegal aliens overrunning the state.

    • Old Gator - Nov 6, 2010 at 12:27 PM

      True, but we can hope that the Arizona legislature is. I wouldn’t mind a pillow book made out of Jan Brewer’s face. Or maybe, given the texture of it, a saddle. Anyone got a 55-gallon drum of tannic acid handy?

  4. Glenn - Nov 6, 2010 at 9:56 AM

    Do people still really think that ballparks make money for the municipalities that pay for them? Every objective study ever done proves this false. Meanwhile schools, libraries, public parks, etc. go underfunded. The continual transfer of taxpayer dollars to the very wealthy should be alarming to everyone, regardless of political affiliation. Yet this is a case where people willingly did it, no shady backdoor dealings involved.

    • Old Gator - Nov 6, 2010 at 12:32 PM

      I don’t think they believe it. I don’t think these things get built relative to what the people of a given locality believe or don’t believe. They get built on backdoor deals between politicians and corporate bloodsuckers – although these days, that pair of types seems more like one of those two-headed planaria biology students are so fond of creating for term projects. Two heads sharing a common asshole. Macondo voters, who overwhelmingly opposed using public money to build Macondo Banana Massacre Field, tried to keep Scrooge McLoria from raiding the public coffers and failed. Stacked deck. Anyone out there wish to hold forth on the screwings-on that led up to the new Milwaukee stadium? That was an epic in itself.

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