stadiums

Self-Proclaimed Fiscal Conservative County Supervisor Pitches Nation's Most Expensive Minor League Stadium

The single-A Potomac Nationals are threatening to leave northern Virginia unless they get a $35 million ballpark.

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Tom Priddy/Icon SMI 984/Tom Priddy/Icon SMI/Newscom

When Corey Stewart was running for governor of Virginia this year, he pledged to be a fiscal conservative who would block tax increases, tackle the tough task of cutting government spending, and oppose special interests seeking favors.

"At campaign time phony conservatives promise not to raise taxes, but they quickly betray their promises when the special interests come calling," Stewart claimed in one press release.

Stewart lost in the primary by a narrow margin, but the chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors still has a chance to show off his fiscally conservative bona fides later this summer when he votes on what might possibly be largest public subsidy for a minor league baseball stadium in the nation's history.

The proposed stadium to be built off I-95 near Woodbridge for the Potomac Nationals, the single-A affiliate of Washington, D.C.'s major league team could end up costing Prince William County taxpayers more than $35 million.

And Stewart, you see, despite all his principled conservative and special interest fighter talk, has championed the stadium deal since it was first proposed in 2012. He voted with the majority of the board in March to give preliminary approval to the project. At a meeting last week, the board voted to block a proposed referendum on the stadium that would have given county residents the chance to express their opinion directly. Final approval of the project is expected in mid-July.

Unless Stewart and a board majority have a considerable change of heart, taxpayers will be on the hook for construction costs and about $7 million in planned infrastructure upgrades around the stadium.

The team will lease the stadium from the county and the county will have to lease the land for the stadium project from a private developer, JBG Companies. PotomacLocal.com reports that the annual rent payment of $450,000 would be the most expensive in all of minor league baseball.

"That's $17 million over 30 years to lease the property. If we bought it outright, it would be vastly less expensive," Supervisor Peter Candland, one of two county board member to oppose the project during March's preliminary vote, told PotomacLocal.com.

Advocates for the project insist the lease payments will eventually (over 30 years) cover the construction costs. As David Boaz, executive vice president of the Cato Institute, pointed out last week (in a wide-ranging and very effective take-down of crony stadium deals), that's a little bit like saying "I will gladly pay you Tuesday, 30 years from now, for a hamburger today."

To help move things along, Potomac Nationals' owner Art Silber told The Washington Post last week he'd sell the team if Prince William County doesn't pony up the necessary cash. And he played the oldest trick in the get-the-taxpayers-to build-you-a-stadium book, suggesting the new owners might relocate the team.

An economic analysis of the project suggests that it would create 288 jobs and generate $4.9 million in tax revenue over 30 years. Projections like these for stadiums are notorious for their unreasonable optimism. The same report also warns that the Nationals may struggle "to generate the projected revenues," potentially jeopardizing the plan to reimburse the county for the construction costs over the next three decades. If the team can't fulfill those obligations, taxpayers would be left holding the bag, Candland told the Post.

"If the Potomac Nationals or the Silber family wants to sign a guarantee and say they'll backstop it and they won't push it onto the taxpayers, then that completely changes things," Candland said. "But they're not willing to do that."

The Potomac Nationals' stadium plan amounts to a massive government-funded giveaway to a privately owned baseball team, the sort gubernatorial candidate Corey Stewart would have railed against. It remains to be seen whether county supervisor Stewart has the will to keep the taxpayers' best interest in mind.

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  1. …that’s a little bit like saying “I will gladly pay you Tuesday, 30 years from now, for a hamburger today.”

    It’s more like saying I’ll buy a hamburger on a 30-year installment and you get to enjoy the aroma as I eat it for three decades. Come on.

    1. I’m making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life.

      This is what I do… http://www.onlinecareer10.com

    2. I’m making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life.

      This is what I do… http://www.onlinecareer10.com

  2. The damn country isn’t even going to survive another 30 years.

  3. There is no way a minor league baseball team can afford to exist in an area as expensive as NoVA without some kind of subsidy. The players would have to live five to a room.

    that’s a little bit like saying “I will gladly pay you Tuesday, 30 years from now, for a hamburger today.”

    Are the lease payments not due until 30 years from now? Cato is as dishonest as ever. Do they think that’s true of a 30 year mortgage too?

    1. There is no way a minor league baseball team can afford to exist in an area as expensive as NoVA without some kind of subsidy. The players would have to live five to a room.

      There’s no way I can afford a Rolls Royce without a subsidy, I’d have to have 5 jobs! Now where’s my fucking Rolls Royce subsidy?

      1. “Now where’s my fucking Rolls Royce subsidy.”

        Patience… Once Rolls introduces electric vehicles, you will have your subsidy.

    2. Liberty =>

      1. Liberty (uncopyable handle)
        Are you paying a for a mortgage you didn’t take out?

    3. Why can’t they operate like loads of other profitable biz in the area? Something funny about baseball that makes it unaffordable?

      1. Yes — they can’t hire illegals.

        1. Oh, how…………..
          pathetic.

        2. Why couldn’t they?

    4. “Are the lease payments not due until 30 years from now? Cato is as dishonest as ever. Do they think that’s true of a 30 year mortgage too?”

      They aren’t being dishonest although the analogy is not great. I imagine what they are saying is that based on the time value of money the break even point if all goes perfectly is 30 years from now. It is more accurate to say they will pay on installments for 30 years with the full bill finally being paid then. I tend to apply a little less literal scrutiny to my cartoon character analogies but that is just me.

    5. an area as expensive as NoVA without some kind of subsidy. The players would have to live five to a room.

      All you’ve done is make an effective argument for why we should raise the minimum wage for minor league ball players.

    6. Yeah, you might have a hard time running a minor league baseball team in Manhattan, too, but so what? If the area really has become too expensive, let them move on. But $35 million for a *single-A* stadium (bottom of the minor league barrel)? That’s truly insane.

      1. It was after watching a P-Nats game that I said the best thing about minor league baseball is that there’s no such thing as a routine grounder to short.

    7. At the end of a 30 year mortgage, you own something. This is a lease.

  4. And Stewart, you see, despite all his principled conservative and special interest fighter talk, has championed the stadium deal since it was first proposed in 2012. He voted with the majority of the board in March to give preliminary approval to the project. At a meeting last week, the board voted to block a proposed referendum on the stadium that would have given county residents the chance to express their opinion directly. Final approval of the project is expected in mid-July.

    But this is totally different! Look, have you got a baseball team? Ever owned one? Do you even know the first thing about the fiscals of a baseball team? See, the deal is complicated and you wouldn’t understand – that’s why it’s necessary that you not be allowed to vote on the proposal. You gotta spend money to make money and, boy howdy, we sure are spending the shit out of some money, ain’t we? So, therefore……. it should go without saying we’re bound to make even more money – it’s simple math, fer crissakes!

  5. OT:
    Germans demonstrate for poverty (or maybe just taking someone else’s money):

    “Thousands protest in German city of Hamburg before G20″
    […]
    ” Thousands of people are taking part in the first major protest in the northern German city of Hamburg before the Group of 20 meeting next weekend.
    About 4,000 people marched through the city center Sunday to protest against the climate and trade policies of the world’s major developed and emerging economies.”
    http://abcnews.go.com/Technolo…..0-48401006

  6. It always seems to be that the “taxpayer’s friend”, “fiscally conservative”, run-it-tight-like-a-business politicians are suckers for some big luxury good like a stadium or a convention center. Not sure why that is, except maybe it’s like after all the negativism they want to show something positive in a big way.

    1. Giving money to poor people doesn’t have the obviously visible payoff of giving money to developers and construction companies.

      It’s sort of like the seen and the unseen. You give $10 mil in food stamps and rent subsidies and so on to poor people, where’s that money go? Obviously, they’re spending it, there’s $10 mil more in spending on groceries and rent going into the local economy*, but you can’t see that. You don’t see the extra employees at the grocery store, the extra delivery drivers, the extra employees at the bread factory, the extra land getting farmed. You don’t see the extra apartments and houses that got built or the extra construction workers that got hired to build them, the extra employees at the building materials supply house, and so on. You give $10 mil to a developer to build a ball park, well, right there’s your $10 mil. You can count every brick and stick that went into building it and every brick mason and stick stacker that got paid to build it.

      1. *Note, I’m not saying that food stamps and housing subsidies are magical stimulants for the economy, I’m fully aware that every dollar in welfare is a dollar taken from a more-productive user and given to a less-productive user minus a hefty cut for the government parasite middle man and that just don’t make any sense from a macroeconomic standpoint. I’m just pointing out that there is at least as much – and almost certainly more – value in giving money to poor people to spend as there is in giving the money to rich people to spend. Poor people just turn around and give the money to Walmart, rich people buy shit like opera houses and philharmonic orchestras. You want more Walmarts or more opera houses?

        1. Thank you, because I was going to say that $10 mil (+) was taken out of the economy and shifted somewhere else.

  7. Well, I think it ought to be clear at this point that when a conservative says “fiscal conservatism”, what they really mean is a type of “fiscal moralism”, where they decide to spend the money only on “worthy” recipients (military, police, baseball park developers) and not spend the money on “unworthy” recipients (welfare bums, foreign aid, anything associated with the left). Which is probably why libertarians shouldn’t be using the term “fiscal conservative” anymore, as people may get it confused with the faux-fiscal-conservatism of the right which insists on spending more money on everything except those deemed unworthy.

    1. Good observ’n & good point. Robert Ringer also noted that people tend not to begrudge $ to the rich, but rather to the poor or moderately well-off go-getter: “You’ve got a lot of nerve making this much on this deal. Why, you’re just a broker!”

  8. “To help move things along, Potomac Nationals’ owner Art Silber told The Washington Post last week he’d sell the team if Prince William County doesn’t pony up the necessary cash. And he played the oldest trick in the get-the-taxpayers-to build-you-a-stadium book, suggesting the new owners might relocate the team.”

    1. Tally the number of people who care. Call this number x.

    2. Divide the cost of the stadium by x. Call this number y.

    3. Send a bill in the amount of y to everyone who belongs to x.

    4. See how many people who originally belonged to x still do. Call this number x’.

    5. Divide the cost of the stadium by x’. Call this number y’.

    6. Send a bill in the amount of y’ to everyone who belongs to x’.

    7. etc.

    Eventually, I suspect the only people left in the class of people who care will be the owners of the team. Let them build their own stadium, or let them sell the team to someone else who just might (gasp!) relocate the team.

    $35 million for single A? Really?

    1. “new owners might relocate the team.”

      Buh-bye.

  9. A 3rd tier team? Really? Fer fuksakes tell em to hold a bake sale like everybody else in that league, if that doesn’t get them enough to slap a coat of paint on the existing “stadium” then yea go ahead and try and sell them… what does one of tbose teams go for anyway? An I O U for an order of nachos perhaps. Now with a brand new $35,000,000.00 he might get a pretty penny for his shitty 3rd tier team.

    1. …$35,000,000.00 stadium…

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