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Teams Leave Before the Debt Does

2010 September 23
by Skip Sauer

The Red Sox want spiffier spring training digs in Fort Myers, Florida, and the locals of Lee County will oblige.  After “kicking the tires” of one or two alternative venues, the Red Sox will apparently stick around to play in a new stadium “financed with $81.2 million” of tax-supported bonds.  The title of the Bloomberg story (in which TSE blogger Dennis Coates has a cameo) is “Red Sox Threat to Flee Florida Winter Home Gets County to Finance Stadium.”  A standard-issue ploy in what we call “The Stadium Game.”

But what caught my eye in the piece was the fact that the city of Fort Myers remains on the hook for $17.5 million of debt for the old stadium.  This appears to be a standard-issue outcome as well:  previous TSE posts discuss outstanding debt on the Meadowlands and RCA Dome, the Houston Astrodome, and Olympic Stadium and Three Rivers Stadium, among others.

In addition to the Red Sox’ legacy in Fort Myers, the current piece adds two new entries.  The LA Dodgers left Vero Beach for Glendale Arizona in 2009.  The county “still owes $12.3 million” on the old Dodgertown facility.  The Pima County “Stadium District” lost the Chicago White Sox in 2009 and the Arizona Diamondbacks will leave next year.  The stadium debt tab in Pima County is $21.3 million according to the Bloomberg article.

Teams leave before the debt does.

One Response
  1. Greg Pinelli permalink
    September 23, 2010

    This is an all too familiar refrain…for the NFL..MLB…every sport. Cities that put out will inevitably be cut out by someone else making a better deal. The solution?? Teams pay for their own stuff..stadiums..improvements to roads..parking..parking monitoring. Too much? Too bad! Move..and take your overrated benefits to the community with you!

    The next 2 years will prove that falling attendance and lower team revenues make for bad civic bedfellows…..

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