Stadium giveaways to billionaires are foolish even in the best of times, but they are even harder to take in the worst. Now comes an analysis from the Miami Herald showing that the Marlins deal — due for a vote on Friday — is even more generous than your typical ballpark boondoggle:
The Florida Marlins stadium deal coming up for final showdown votes Friday — where the public would foot 70 percent of the construction bill and share none of the revenue — would be among the more generous to a team owner this decade, a Miami Herald analysis found.
Fourteen Major League stadiums have been built, or begun, since 2000. The average public contribution for construction of those stadiums has been 44 percent, the newspaper found.
Under the proposed Miami deal, the Marlins would rank ninth of the 14 in the percentage of construction costs borne by the team, the newspaper found.
”It’s probably not the best deal that has ever been worked out between a community and a team,” Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez said after his State of the County speech on Tuesday.
But he insisted it’s better than most and comes at a time the region is thirsting for a public works jolt, adding: “At some point, negotiations have to stop.”
The public works argument is the only argument in the stadium’s favor, but I have to ask: what’s the state of Miami’s water lines? Its sewers? Its rail lines? Its roads? This ballpark is certainly not the best use of public funds in general, but even if you set aside the fact that it will primarily enrich Jeff Loria and serve a mostly well-off clientele, is this ballpark the best use of public works dollars?
By the way, there’s a great quote in this article as well. It comes from the Giants’ former owner Peter Magowan, a man I have often praised for building his team’s stadium with private dollars. What I often forget to mention is that he tried really hard to get the public to pay first. His thoughts on the matter today, even after he built a jewel of a park that has done very well for his team’s bottom line:
‘We really would have preferred if the public had taken the risk instead of us.”
That’s what it’s all about for these guys: putting the risk on others and keeping all of the benefits for themselves. We normally excoriate people who do this, but for some reason, baseball owners get a free pass from government officials, most of the media, and most of the public at large.
I simply don’t get it.