Local Opposition Halts Planned Minor League Stadium Subsidy

Another win for taxpayers as $35 million minor league ballpark proposal is canned by Prince William County.


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

County officials in Virginia have cancelled plans to build a minor league baseball stadium that could have ended up costing taxpayers as much as $35 billion, but the team might soon be looking for a hand-out somewhere else.

Art Silber, owner of the single-A Potomac Nationals, a minor league affiliate of the nearby Washington Nationals, asked Prince William County officials to withdraw the stadium proposal last week. A planned vote on the stadium deal never materialized in the face of opposition from local taxpayers and two members of the county board of supervisors, according to Inside NoVa, a regional online news platform.

"He clearly saw that he did not have the votes for this to pass," Supervisor Pete Candland, who had opposed the project throughout the process, told WTOP, a local TV affiliate.

The battle might be over, but the war could go on. Silber is considering other locations in northern Virginia for a new stadium, Inside NoVa reports, meaning that Prince William County's win could be another area's loss if local officials offer a similar deal to the minor league team.

Reason reported on the stadium proposal earlier this month, highlighting the role that Prince William County Supervisor Corey Stewart played in the process. Stewart ran for governor—and recently launched a bid to win the Republican nomination for Virginia's 2018 senate election—promising to be a conservative who would oppose special interests, but he championed a stadium deal that would have included one of the largest public subsidies ever for a minor league ballpark.

Although Silber initially promised to pay for most of the new ballpark, the final plan that ended up before Prince William County officials in late June would have put taxpayers on the hook for at least $17 million to leasing land where the stadium was to be built, along with $7 million in infrastructure upgrades. Worse, the county would have been left holding the bag if the team was unable to make promised lease payments over the next three decades.

"Corporate welfare for professional sports teams is a bad call for taxpayers in Virginia," says JC Hernandez, state director for Americans for Prosperity, a conservative grassroots group that helped to organize local opposition to the Potomac Nationals' stadium deal. "Stadium subsidies regularly prove to be bad investments, yet sports owners consistently turn to taxpayers for handouts."

The group is already preparing for the next fight by throwing its support behind a proposal from state Del. Michael Webert, R-18th District, to prohibit taxpayer financing for stadiums. Webert has submitted his bill to the American Legislative Exchange Council, a group of conservative state lawmakers, where he hopes it will become a model for other states to follow.

That's yet another sign of the growing political opposition to building stadiums with tax dollars. Earlier this year, Sens. Cory Booker (D–N.J.) and James Lankford (R–Okla.), proposed legislation in Congress to ban the use of tax exempt municipal bonds in financing stadium projects. Their bill would not mark the end of government-subsidized stadiums, but would close a major loophole that's been exploited by cities from New York to San Diego in recent years. According to a recent analysis by the Brookings Institution, a centrist think tank, since 2000, 45 major professional sports stadium projects have been financed in part by more than $13 billion in municipal bonds.

Congressional action could be helpful, but the fight against stadium subsidies ultimately has to be won at the local level, one place at a time. Chalk up a win in Virginia.

NEXT: Accused Student Says He Was Told to 'Stay Quiet' About His Own Lack of Consent

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  1. So now Reason hates baseball on top of everything else American.

    1. The true American sport is football. Though, as pies goes, apple still resigns supreme. Mom still favorite parent too.

      1. baseball will be alive and well long after people stop playing football, and I say this as a football fan. I love the game, but it’s on its way out

        1. I don’t think so. They may change some rules like they did with targeting (and why is Ndamukong Suh still allowed on a football field? ) but it’s not going anywhere. Way too much money involved for one thing.

          1. That brain scan study jolted a lot of people. I suspect it will fuel quite a few lawsuits, just as happened with Big Tobacco, with the only justification being that the leaders played dumb for so long that they set themselves up for a fall.

            I think the real breaking point will be slipshod attempts to make football safe. I am not prognosticator. I don’t know enough about the game whether that will be new rules banning rough physical contact (flag football? electronic suits like fencers use?), eliminating all the padding and helmets which encourage rough behavior, who knows. But they will do crazy things to show how much they care, and end up driving away too many fans to afford the high salaries any more.

            1. The same sorts of things were said about boxing decades ago. Not only do we still having boxing, we also have MMA. The money in those sports pail in comparison to college and professional football.

              1. The same sorts of things were said about boxing decades ago.

                And boxing went from being one of the top 3 spectator sports in America to an afterthought during that time.

                The money in those sports pail in comparison to college and professional football.

                The reverse was true but a few decades ago.

                1. “And boxing went from being one of the top 3 spectator sports in America to an afterthought during that time.”

                  Which had zero to do with head unjuries and everything to do with idiot promoters who couldn’t see past their ppv payouts to the long term marketing potential of the sport.

                2. Much trueness here. Movies from the 1930s often had people meeting at the fights, even couples dating there. Nowadays the only time boxing rings show up is when cops go to a seedy gym to question some shady character.

            2. Perhaps football could evolve into sarcasticaball just like in South Park.

          2. Viewership of NFL games went down 8% last year, due to rule changes, disrespect of the US flag and anthem, eliminating the kicking game, and the novelty of fantasy FB wearing off.

            1. “…disrespect of the US flag and anthem,…”

              Yeah, not nearly enough mouth-breathing jingoism, right?

              1. When a sport claims to be America’s sport, it damned well better pay attention to those details.

                1. “When a sport claims to be America’s sport, it damned well better pay attention to those details.”

                  Wrapping yourself in the flag is always the best choice, right?

              2. There are 168 hours in a week. CK decided to use two minutes to protest, and wrote a check once.

                What else has he done?

                1. Unfortunately, he spent several years employed by the 49ers impersonating an NFL QB. He shoulda been arrested!

                  1. Now he may soon be impersonating a Ravens backup QB.

          3. As long as there are kids either ignorant of the long-term damage potential, or too stupid to care, there will be plenty of cannon fodder for teams to draft. As long as they can put a product on the field and make some money, they will (no judgment, just a statement).

            I predict we’ll reach some sort of equilibrium, where the NFL keeps making minor tweaks and paying lip-service to the brain injury problem, but won’t water down the sport to the point it’s unwatchable. (Let’s be honest…who would tune in for Monday Night Flag-football?) The smart kids will decide maybe a 2-3 season career in the NFL isn’t worth it, but the full-scholarship general-studies majors will still see it as their ticket to a big payday.

      2. Gridiron football is for men too soft to play rugby.

        1. Too true: best bumper sticker ever – “it takes leather balls to play rugby”

        2. or “if Rugby was easy they’d call it football”

          every catch the 7s? Next year they are in Vegas and SF

        3. Uh, in football you can hit a guy from any angle except when blocking as hard as you can. In rugby you can only tackle between the shoulders and waist and most hits have short run-ups.

        4. Rugby isn’t even as tough as Footy.

      3. Lacrosse.

      4. Actually pecan pies are far better than apple pies; apple pies are trending down and pecans up.

        1. I like both

    2. Nope, if this baseball team was a good deal for the town it would have paid for itself. Investors would be tripping over themselves to invest in a baseball team that would make them money. Clearly this one was going to. Besides football is America’s sport now, baseball is on its way out.

  2. “…but the team might soon be looking for a hand-out somewhere else.”

    Call the suckers in Santa Clara; they took it in the shorts for the 49ers, maybe they’ll double-down.

    1. Or maybe they’ll just outsource…..990335.cms

  3. County officials in Virginia have cancelled plans to build a minor league baseball stadium that could have ended up costing taxpayers as much as $35 billion, but the team might soon be looking for a hand-out somewhere else.

    Are they hosting a single-A baseball team or the summer olympics?

  4. Interesting story about the Aurora killer. This 180 degree change in his personality over a relatively short period of time is interesting. The claim is that he was off of the drug for several weeks before the killing but how do they know he hadn’t been hoarding them prior to ending treatment? It almost sounds like the drug took away all of the inhibitions he had regarding his social anxiety. Did it also remove his inhibitions against carrying out his dark fantasies. With the number of people taking the drug and the fact that they aren’t all mass murderers, it is quite a stretch to blame the drug for the actions of a mentally unbalanced asshole even if in his unique case there was a connection. Unfortunately, this is the sort of thing that could end up impacting gun control laws as I’m sure the author would be in favor of.…..a_shooting

    1. Probably a dead OT thread, but I read the “article”. First of all, newer generation SSRIs like fluoxetine (which is Prozac. Hardly a newer generation).

      This is typical of the “investigative” reporting we see today. Some crackpot hates SSRIs, and so we get the typical bullshit about it. Meanwhile, SSRIs have improved the lives of millions of people (myself included). Yes, one of the side-effects can be a sense of numbness or fogginess. That is why SSRIs are very often not prescribed alone. Very often something for norepinephrine is given (such as Vyvanse or Adderall) which helps with that. In addition, it can take months to titrate to the proper dosages where you feel good about stuff, without overdoing it.

  5. …that could have ended up costing taxpayers as much as $35 billion,

    Billion? That is quite expensive. I’m going to assume*million*.

    1. Yeah considering the Vikings monstrosity cost just over a billion, 35 billion would be quite the field of dreams.

    2. He was just anticipating the inevitable cost overruns.

    3. Well NY just built a 4 stall toilet for 2 million.

  6. But Reason still supports funding all those museums in DC, right?

  7. $35 Billion? Man that is one expensive stadium. You could but 15 NFL teams for that.

    1. Environmental surveys are expensive, man; how do you think Al G. got so rich?

  8. The minor league stadium in Hartford is the best thing to happen there since Mark Twain.

    1. Good. I hope you paid for it.

    2. What team did he play for?

    3. Ah, I’d love to see the Whalers play in Hartford again.

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