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News Flash: promises of a publicly-funded ballpark driving economic growth don’t pan out

Sep 2, 2011, 11:33 AM EDT


I know. I’m just as shocked as you are. I mean, the first several dozen instances of taxpayer-funded sports facilities failing to deliver on the politicians’ promises of economic growth may have failed miserably, but I was certain that it was gonna work this time:

The team’s poor showing has implications for Gwinnett taxpayers. The county gets $1 for every ticket sold and half the net parking proceeds – money it uses to help repay $33 million borrowed to build the stadium. Parking revenue last year was half of the $200,000 the county originally projected in 2008, while ticket revenue was near the $400,000 annual minimum guaranteed in Gwinnett’s contract with the Braves.

Look, if you’re gonna ask taxpayers to fund a ballpark, be honest. Admit that it’s a bauble. Admit that it is a recreation facility, not an economic juggernaut.  Admit that it is a cost center, not a profit center, for the community. Hey, a lot of people will still want that.  As a stinkin’ lefty I still try to convince myself that government can do stuff like that. I grew up in the 70s and I got used to institutional cinderblock rec centers and actually find them kind of comforting for some perverse reason.

But government should not be in the business of underwriting the private sector’s playthings.  Read the article. Note that the team is profitable. Note that the taxpayers, however, are not getting what they were promised.


  1. steveohho - Sep 2, 2011 at 11:55 AM

    “But government should not be in the business of underwriting the private sector’s playthings” That is how they make their money. The contractors kick some of the the money they make back to the pols and the beat goes on. All “public” projects from wars, to roads, to ball parks, to bailouts, etc. are based on this racket.

    • 18thstreet - Sep 2, 2011 at 12:15 PM

      Who is “they” in “this is how they make their money”?

  2. cleverbob - Sep 2, 2011 at 11:57 AM

    For once I agree with you, even though I thoroughly enjoy CBP and the Linc.

  3. jwbiii - Sep 2, 2011 at 12:25 PM

    This might be a lesson about where teams should put their AAA affiliates. Close is good, too close is not too good. The only other team with a AAA affiliate as close is Seattle/Tacoma, and Tacoma doesn’t draw very well, either.

    • clydeserra - Sep 2, 2011 at 4:28 PM

      Oakland -Sacramento

    • clydeserra - Sep 2, 2011 at 4:30 PM

      Denver-Colorado springs.

    • clydeserra - Sep 2, 2011 at 4:33 PM

      pawtucket- Boston

  4. Old Gator - Sep 2, 2011 at 12:26 PM

    On behalf of the taxpayers of Macondo, I would like to say (censored).

    • natstowngreg - Sep 2, 2011 at 1:20 PM

      I know some DC residents who would say the same thing.

  5. sknut - Sep 2, 2011 at 12:33 PM

    if the payout was so great for owners they would do it themselves to make more money but its not and ask the public to subsidze private industry.

  6. humanexcrement - Sep 2, 2011 at 1:46 PM

    Well, in the minor leagues, yeah, I doubt it has much impact. But what are the number for major league ballparks creating economic growth? Let’s ignore teams in NY, Chicago and Boston that have been around forever. Even in downtown Denver, a relatively new baseball city, there are whole blocks of businesses–restaurants, bars and stores that wouldn’t be there if not for Coors field being built. Yes, of course, a Double-A team isn’t going to turn around the economy of Gary, Indiana, but a major league team should at least help out a small or medium sized city.

    • Bill - Sep 2, 2011 at 2:27 PM

      That whole comment is missing a nice, big [citation needed].

    • clydeserra - Sep 2, 2011 at 4:39 PM

      so, an extra 80 nights a year, these restaurants are filled to capacity an extra 2 hours?

    • dnc6 - Sep 3, 2011 at 12:08 PM

      So without the Rockies, people in Denver wouldn’t spend their discretionary entertainment dollars at bars, restaurants or stores in the local economy? Bull. These places may or may not be located in the same place, but the Rockies aren’t increasing the amount of money available to spend on local establishments. In fact, there are probably countless other places in the metro-Denver area that provide a bigger boost to the local economy than Coors Field and the surrounding bars.

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