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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Kris Murphy's Take on the Ballpark Issue

December 15, 2010

TO: City of Escondido City Council & Staff

FROM: Kris Murphy

RE: City – Moorad MOU on minor league ballpark

As a former member of the City Council, and one who has both long championed and challenged the City in regards to the Center for the Arts, I wish to raise the following objections to be the ballpark MOU and the process by which the City has handled this matter.

I mention the Center for the Arts because I see once again the City making some fundamental mistakes in the way that it “managing” this proposal. At this time, the City seems to be looking through rose colored glasses at the potential positive effects constructing a minor league ballpark may have. Having lived in two towns which had minor league ballparks and of course teams, I can tell you that the “spin off” effect of those facilities and activates was NEGLIGIBLE. (Some would say non-existent.)

The Center for the Arts, has had NEGLIGIBLE IMPACTS on the downtown and a quick tour of Grand Avenue proves that. To think that the proposed minor league ballpark, which has similar “dark” characteristics, will do anything for the industrial area or downtown, when there are no facts or examples of similar sized cities, having any success with similar facilities, borders on insanity. (The City has failed to do it’s due dilligence.)

I’m not aware of any Staff report that details the cash flow required to build this project, nor the anticipated tax increment or sales taxes generated from such a scheme. My rough calculations put the MONTHLY debt service at $300,000+. The MOU calls for just $200,000 PER YEAR for rent . (Where is the cash flow going to come from to make the mortgage payments on the ballpark? The City is still paying MILLIONS each year to pay off the Center for the Arts……which generates NEGLIGIBLE sales taxes and has not stimulated enough increment to pay for itself.)

The London Report was done by the developer’s consultant. It should not be considered an independent review, nor its projections accepted without confirmation or challenge.

I’m not aware of ANY OTHER BUSINESS, DEVELOPER, INVESTOR, etc. who was offered the City owned land AND $50,000,000+ in redevelopment financing. Why has the City NOT CONDUCTED AN RFP?

Surely there are dozens if not hundreds of local, regional, national firms which would jump at the chance to develop some project which would provide REAL FULL-TIME JOBS and operate DAILY. There are businesses that operate 365 days a year. (And not be dark 270+ days a year like the ballpark.)

If you continue to go down this project’s cul de sac, you will find that the people will challenge your actions via referendum and I assume others will do so in court. The failure to “shop around” for other projects; nor address the real financial condition of the City and the Community Development Commission (and the $30,000,000+ debt the City owes the redevelopment agency); nor learn from the Center for the Arts disaster; and by selecting a project so shallow when it comes to job & revenue creation, will lead to the projects ultimate rejection by the voters.

Very Sincerely, Kris

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