“While there are still those who have expressed doubt or concern about the timing, what I have been able to convey is that we don’t want to circle the wagons and hunker down. This is really a time when we need to stimulate their local economy,” Judah said.
It sure is. But there’s no question here on whether a baseball stadium that will sit empty the vast majority of the time (even in spring-training season) is the best way to stimulate said local economy.
If you bet that the story’s next source would also have a vested interest on the “for” side of this project, you got it right (emphasis mine):
John Yarbrough, the county’s former parks and recreation director who has been retained as a consultant on the project, said that the financial structure of the deal should mitigate residents’ concerns somewhat.
The stadium would likely be paid off through borrowing from the county’s own reserve fund, which would be paid back through tourist taxes.
Money is fungible. Tourist-tax dollars aren’t magic money that doesn’t have an effect on other local taxes and spending—even if the law says it can’t be used on things like homeless shelters. As the Journal was good to point out:
Philip Porter, an economist at the University of South Florida, said Lee County’s decision to bankroll a new spring-training site is “unconscionable” amid the current uncertainty.
Mr. Porter notes local taxpayers could be on the hook if Lee County’s tourist-tax revenue, which has remained stable in recent months, shrinks in the coming years. He also argues communities have wiggle room with tourist-tax proceeds and could be directing them toward a local park or school gymnasium, freeing up local taxes for other needs.
As far as I can tell, the ProJo reporter, Daniel Barbarisi, didn’t talk to a single independent, skeptical source—at least he didn’t quote or paraphrase them.
Look, I understand this is a sports-section story. But that’s no excuse. If you’re going to wade into the business and political end of things you’d better do it right.
There is one interesting bit of information here that caught my eye, however—of course framed in the best possible light for the pro-stadium folks:
The Baltimore Orioles, who are dissatisfied with their current Fort Lauderdale location, have been in talks to replace the Red Sox at City of Palms.
And ‘round and ‘round we go.