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Osceola County voting whether to spend $220 million on pro-baseball stadium

August 19, 2013 J,

Spring Training – NOT the Economic Development  It’s Cracked Up To Be!   

The Osceola Commission is proposing to spend taxpayer money to build a $98 million facility to lure the Washington Nationals from Brevard County.  The estimated real cost, including interest and over-runs is projected at $220 million.

Simply put – taxpayer funding of professional sprots stadiums is not only irresponsible use of tax money, it is a total waste!  The only benefactor is the pro team that gets a great new facility at no cost to themselves.

Teams and supporters of these deals say that having spring training teams is a great economic development tool that results in lots of revenue for the local area – but that is just not true.  Economists have questioned the economic benefit of spring training for years. 

Since teams change spring training locations so frequently — half a dozen, for example, have moved their spring sites from Florida to Arizona from 2003-2010 — there’s ample data to determine whether a city suffers when its team leaves.

Philip K. Porter, a sports economist at the University of South Florida, says “nothing changes” when a spring training team skips town. Sales tax, property values and the size of the tax base remains at comparable levels, undermining the argument that the stadiums pose a vast economic benefit. Porter says “that finding is so universal as to be irrefutable.

In 1995 the baseball strike led to a 60% decrease in Grapefruit league (Florida’s spring training league) attendance. Since having these teams is supposed to be a huge economic driver, you’d expect a big economic hit because of this decline in attendance. However, that didn’t happen. In fact, a study by University of Akron professor John Zipp found that taxable sales in spring training communities actually increased that year rather than decreasing.

So today at 5:30pm we will find out whether the Osceola County Commission will follow down the failed path so many other local governments have in the past, and vote to give away hundreds of millions of dollars to benefit a professional sports team.  Or will they vote to protect Osceola taxpayers and decide not to give away tax dollars to a team with an annual $40 million operating profit.

Call your County Commissioner now to voice your opposition to this corporate welfare give-away!  Click here for the Commissioners’ contact info.

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