Monday, December 04, 2006

More Soccer Stadium Stuff

Based on my posts here and here, have seen quite a few hits from a forum at Bigsoccer.com. Just to clarify things, I don’t belive that the state should be funding development for stadiums, period. I’m not for the state providing the University of Akron with a shiny new football stadium either.

Mr. Archer makes some points (currently on page 6 of the thread) worth responding to.

1. The $14 million in “Cultural Development Funds” represents an expense for which the State of Ohio will write either one or a series of checks, using funds provided by some combination of taxpayers. The logic of “it’s free – it’s just sitting there – if they didn’t spend it on this, they would spend it on something else” just doesn’t wash. This is money that the state shouldn’t be spending at all.

Again, I take a pretty libertarian / Adam Smith view that if there is profit to be made, the market, not the taxpayers, should provide the financing. The state should not be subsidizing the profits of the Wolstein Group. Or Archer Daniels Midland, to pick another example.

Just about every stadium promises incremental economic development, in terms of offices, entertainment complexes, etc. I’m not sure why an office park and retail complex needs a stadium as an anchor. After all, the offices will likely be closed when the stadium events are scheduled… Even the big pro sports stadiums don’t deliver benefits as promised. Which leads one to suspect that Cabela’s and the Cleveland Clinic are looking to the state to pick up a share of the development tab.

And if there are many studies (conceded by Mr. Archer), at some point we may wish to listen to them, no? Isn’t the classic definition of insanity performing the same action, over and over, and expecting a different result?

2. On the $8 million in lieu of property taxes to Nordonia schools. This was a very poorly written sentence:

“Those numbers from the Beacon add up to $366 million, but Wolstein’s promised $8 million to Nordonia to get out of paying property taxes, and the cigarette tax estimate is probably soft as well.”

I agree with Mr. Archer’s point that the agreement with Nordonia is likely to be a contractual number. My “soft” comment was more directed toward the cigarette tax revenues, and the fact that the original Beacon article shows a $327 million cost, and $366 million worth of components. I was attempting to point to the approximately $40 million gap. I was not clear enough. I apologize.

3. Stadium cost increases: My original post didn’t break out the difference between the costs of the stadium vs. the surrounding development, and the PD link doesn’t appear to work at this stage. I’m willing to concede that the stadium estimates may not have increased, but the track record on big public projects is that the final costs usually far exceed the initial projections. If we’re loading up costs where we expect the taxpayers to assume the risk, then the original point holds.

4. On the U of A stadium: as noted earlier, I’m not a supporter. You don’t (or at least shouldn’t) have to be Carnac to understand that the state is only likely to devote so much money to stadiums. A 20,000+ soccer stadium at $170 million and another $xxx million football stadium within 25 miles of each other? Competing for very similar off season events? Doesn’t seem plausible, now does it? But I guess you can’t go wrong underestimating the stupidity of politicians.

Of note is the fact that he makes no effort to answer the arguments on the cigarette tax or likely attendance numbers.

So, at the end of the day, Mr. Archer’s successfully accuses me of…. a poorly written sentence. All in all, pretty thin gruel.