The Florida Marlins have been jonesing for a new ballpark for years. The problem is, they don’t want to pay for it.

Now it looks like the team might finally get their stadium. Recently elected Florida Gov. Charlie Crist says he is a fan of using taxpayer money to subsidize sports stadiums.

Crist, a former minor league baseball attorney and one-time college quarterback, said stadiums rev up local economies and benefit communities in other ways.

”I would look favorably upon it,” Crist said at The Associated Press’ annual legislative preview meeting.

Lucky Florida taxpayers.

John Sugg, a columnist for the liberal weekly rag Creative Loafing, which publishes in Atlanta, Tampa, Charlotte and Sarasota, is a fervent opponent of publicly financed stadiums. And whether he’s arguing against a new football stadium in Atlanta, or a new baseball stadium in Tampa, Sugg always points to a 1994 study conducted by Lake Forest College Prof. Robert Baade.

From Creative Loafing:

You’ll be blasted with a lot of bombast about the value of football teams and stadiums in the near future. Basically, it’s exaggeration and, often, mendacity. What you won’t hear much of are experts such as Robert Baade, a professor at Lake Forest College in Illinois. In 1994, Baade studied 48 cities, including Atlanta, over a 30-year period. He found only two cities where the presence of sports teams nudged the economy — Indianapolis (positive) and Baltimore (negative).

Of the 30 cities where there was a change in the number of stadiums or arenas 10 years old or less, 27 areas showed no relationship between the presence of a stadium and any economic benefit to the community. In all three of the remaining cases (St. Louis, San Francisco/Oakland and Washington D.C.), the stadium had a significantly negative impact.

“Sports investments appear to be an economically unsound use of a community’s scarce financial resources,” Baade concludes.

I don’t know if sports stadiums have become more or less profitable for their respective cities since Baade’s study came out 13 years ago. But the idea of taxpayer-financed stadiums has always struck me as a bit unfair. If taxpayers are going to pay for stadiums, shouldn’t the state at least get parking and luxury box revenues? If we, as taxpayers, are going to make a huge investment like that, what exactly are we getting in return?

**Note: An earlier version of this post featured a photo of RFK Stadium, where the Nationals play. The current photo is an artist’s rendering of what a new Marlins stadium might look like.

3 Responses to “Who’ll buy the Marlins a new stadium?”

  1. Coley Ward says:

    I think the question that needs to be asked is, “Why does MLB have an obligation to ‘serve the public?'” After all, baseball is a business. Boxing doesn’t serve the public by putting all the good fights on pay per view. The NFL doesn’t serve the public by blacking out games that aren’t sold out. The NHL didn’t serve the public by moving its games to Versus. So why is baseball held to a higher standard?

    The answer is simple. Baseball has been allowed to opperate in violation of anti-trust laws for years. So legislators expect them to go the extra mile to not screw over fans, aka voters. You can bet that Kerry is going to mention the phrase “anti-trust violation” about a dozen times when he sits down with reps from the FCC and MLB.

    There’s a lot of reasons to be pissed at John Kerry, but I don’t think this is one of them. I think Kerry just has some free time on his hands, since he’s decided not to run for president, and he’s decided to hold Bud Selig’s ass to the fire. Thank god somebody’s doing it.

  2. I like that Crist is a “former minor league baseball attorney,” I guess not everyone can get that call up to the the bigs.

    Not to nitpick, but that’s a picture of RFK not Dolphins Stadium.

  3. Actually gary that is a prototype from 2003 that was made for the Marlins stadium that would have sat next to the Orange Bowl.

    I’m very encouraged that we have Crist in office who is making a concious effort to keeping baseball in South Florida. I am worried that a domed stadium in South Florida would not improvement the attendance. The problem with South Florida is not really the weather, but the fare weather fans. Unless there is a good product on the field, they won’t show up. Even the Phins attendance takes a hit when they suck. Heat fans do not show up uuntil half way through the game.

    I’ll tell you this much, throw a dome on the Marlins stadium and I’m at 75% of the home games easy.

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