Monday, February 13, 2006

2/12/6, Newsday: "Owners should foot bill for stadiums"

Owners should foot bill for stadiums

Ken Davidoff

February 12, 2006

Ridiculously, the Washington Nationals (originally the Montreal Expos) kick off their fifth year as a ward of Major League Baseball, and a discharge from Bud Selig's orphanage is hardly imminent. Another chaotic week in District of Columbia politics produced another revised lease for the prodigal new stadium project, and baseball officials sound decidedly pessimistic about whether this plan will fly.

Without a viable new stadium plan, baseball leadership has made clear, there will be no sale.

Throw in the continued frustration of the Minnesota Twins, whose efforts to get a new ballpark are on life support, and the unsurprising revelation that the Yankees will be getting far more public funding than originally reported for their new stadium.

It adds up to one obvious conclusion, one that baseball has largely refused to acknowledge: The taxpayers shouldn't be footing the bill for these projects. Such a path leads to so much trouble, like this Washington nonsense, and the buildings never validate their investments. (Emphasis ours) Furthermore, there's nowhere for teams such as the Marlins to move.

A far more preferable avenue: Have baseball owners fund their own new fields of dreams. Create some sort of central fund, designed specifically to aid owners in need.

"There may come a time for that," Selig acknowledged in an interview last month. "This sport hasn't been in enough of a profit situation to be able to do that, but we're making progress."

That's good news. By now, everyone knows that whole "invest in a stadium and your community shall reap the benefits" idea is an utter fallacy. (Again, emphasis ours) A chapter from a fascinating new book, "Baseball Between the Numbers," by the people from Baseball Prospectus, contains a chapter further validating this reality.

The NFL is in the stadium-building business, and baseball should follow that lead. To be fair, baseball is far ahead of Paul Tagliabue and company when it comes to diversity, so baseball gets the overall edge.


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