For those die-hards who still say Escondido should pony up $50 million+ for a 9,000 seat baseball park . . . take a look at these two stories, both of which are on point and should scare anyone away from even thinking of entertaining this idea.
Our City Council members, both present and future, need to look at these two stories closely. And quickly. We have a lot of other areas where our redevelopment money can, and should, go.
In Portland, Oregon, at a Beaver’s Game:
The majority of the announced crowd of 2,853 had vacated PGE Park before the ninth inning began. Average attendance for the first 19 home dates through Monday was 2,617. Through May 10 of 2009, the Beavers averaged 3,777 through 15 home games. Portland averaged 5,280 for the entire 2009 season.
Portland has a population of 582,000+. Quite a bit more than Escondido, and Portland cannot support a AAA baseball team.
Average attendance less than 3000 this year? And they want us to build a 9000 seat stadium? This is a fool’s dream. It just doesn’t make sense!
The second story tells us of what a terrible failure the stadium in Reno, Nevada, is.
Ballpark financial issues hit Reno Monday,
27 September 2010
A decrease in property values in the area and an assessment that Aces Ballpark is now worth less than half the construction price is forcing Reno to pay $1 million this year in subsidies to its developer, the Reno Aces (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) -- and that payment may need to be repeated annually in coming years. Aces Ballpark was built with some serious subsidies from the city; it was pitched as an economic-development tool from the beginning.
The industrial parks and high end stores did NOT flock to locate or relocate close to the ball park. It is folly! Absolute folly!
One other item, closer to home.
San Bernardino has a Municipal Baseball Park in its downtown area. Lets take a look at the economic development encouraged across the street
A Lucky 7 Tattoo parlor is not very impressive!
Strange things going on in these negotiations. It was announced last Thursday that the Moorad Group had purchased the Portland Beavers for between $15 and $20 million and would station the team in Tucson, where there is an existing stadium.
To that, we say, good!
The Moorad Group should stay there. I reckon they will be paying rent in Tucson - unlike the deal they tried to put over on us. Why, the Tucson stadium might even get to keep some of the parking and concession revenue. That wasn’t part of the package here.
Later, the story was retracted, but only partially. The Tucson newspapers are still reporting it as a done deal: that Moorad has, in fact bought the team. Other sources say it’s an option to buy by December 1st and it has not been exercised as yet.
Regardless, this whole deal stinks to high heaven.
Lots of other things going on in North County but much is focused on Escondido.
Sam Abed will be Escondido’s new Mayor, Ed Gallo, is back on the Council and Marie Waldron, continues her long tenure as a Council member. They join sitting Council member Olga Diaz and the four of them will, hopefully, agree on a candidate to fill the unexpired term of the new Mayor, Sam Abed.
We would hazard a suggestion that Jim Crone would be an outstanding candidate. He is a hard-headed businessman, a very successful one, with full knowledge of builders and developers, having dealt with them on a regular basis.
He is probably a moderate Conservative, which would fit well with Abed, Waldron and Gallo. He also would likely draw support from Olga Diaz.
We certainly should work diligently to appoint a member. Special elections are expensive and Escondido doesn’t need any more expensive actions.
Both Dick Daniels and Lori Holt Pfeiler, by all accounts, are super people . . . but I suspect the political chemistry is not there. They were the prime movers on the baseball stadium and the new council’s thinking on this is probably less ambitious (and more sensible, we think. We’ve been against the ballpark from the beginning).
Of greater immediate concern to us is the recent revelation by Richard Barron of the possibility of a violation of the Brown Act and/or a conspiracy of sorts.
I anticipate a referral to the San Diego County Grand Jury and/or the California Attorney General (who is, at present, some guy named Jerry Brown).
Barron sent a well crafted Demand Letter to the city of Escondido which pointed out what appears to be a succession of errors in protocol and violation(s) of the Brown Act by both members of our City Council and implementation of legislative acts without either public notice or the affirmative authority of the Council members by staff. Several council members indicated they felt the staff or other Council members had “snuck” things through on the Consent Calendar.
I don’t like skullduggery in high places; don’t like it much in low places either . . . particularly at the local level. If we have skullduggerers within our midst, let us root them out and if there be a penalty to pay, let them pay it.
In any event, stay tuned. As the facts come out in this case, thanks to Mr. Barron, things promise to get even more interesting and, possibly, warmer, for certain council members, past or present.
Back to the proposed baseball park. In addition to the examples cited earlier, failing ball parks at the minor league level, there are other reasons we should drop this idea. We don’t have the money. There is no revenue sharing . . . there is no cap on costs . . . there is no great benefit to having a last place baseball team (that Portland didn’t want. Nor, it seems, any other city).
Alternative projects would create real jobs. Higher paying jobs than entry level, part time jobs a minor league team would offer.
If the question is "what should the redevelopment agency spend $50,000,000-$75,000,000 on, rather than a baseball park,” the list is long.
For example, the redevelopment agency owes the City $32,000,000 in loans the City made to the agency over the years. Would the City's General Fund benefit from an infusion of tens of millions, paid back by the Agency?
Let’s explore other, more sensible, more viable options and then live happily ever after in the Land Of What Might Be.
We urge the Council, present and future, to reject the complete idea of the ball park proposal. There are much better ideas that await your attention. A Word to the Wise and all that.