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Richmond Times-Dispatch Editorial: Former baseball team's move to Georgia 'case study in stadium foolishness'

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RICHMOND, VA (RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH) -- Bitter recrimination was the order of the day when the Richmond Braves ball club lit out for Gwinnett, Ga., four years ago. The AAA team had demanded a replacement for its aging ballpark, The Diamond, and local officials hadn't come through. The city and surrounding counties were denounced as the gang that couldn't shoot straight.

Now it's beginning to look like they dodged a bullet.

County leaders in Gwinnett lured the Braves from Richmond by borrowing millions to build the team a spanking-new stadium. Residents were ecstatic over what the Gwinnett Daily Post termed the fulfillment of "Gwinnett's dream." A study plumped Gwinnett as "an ideal location" and "one of the strongest markets in the country" for a minor-league club. The paper said surveys showed "overwhelming support" for the proposal.

But the bloom, as they say, is off the rose.

Click here to read more at TimeDispatch.com

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This is interesting....

We've been sitting here arguing about this for months and this one article has brought this discussion into very sharp focus:
"The AAA team had demanded a replacement for its aging ballpark, The Diamond, and local officials hadn't come through. The city and surrounding counties were denounced as the gang that couldn't shoot straight."
First many here have said Minor league teams hold their cities hostage - the situation in Richmond proves it to be true.
Second - the gang that couldn't shoot straight sounds just like the "Kueblerisms" we've been hearing. "Not the time for frugality", "look to the future not to the past" type of blather he's noted for.

"A study plumped Gwinnett as "an ideal location" and "one of the strongest markets in the country" for a minor-league club. The paper said surveys showed "overwhelming support" for the proposal."
Boy this completely destroyed the NSS report. Yes we got involved in a lot of detail within that report but one thing I didn't hammer home enough was how much all these studies look alike. If you look at the NSS study and put a CS&L (Convention Sports and Leisure) study next to it they are identical in format. Chapter numbers and headings are the same. The report that lead to the Las Vegas stadium build is exactly the same as ours, the numbers are just switched. It is a stunning example of copy & paste, low brow, thoughtless verbage.

"But then, the grand design was not merely to provide entertainment for the masses. Luring the Braves to Gwinnett was supposed to bring a fresh stream of revenue to county coffers and light a private-sector spark that would ignite a brushfire of ancillary development. Neither has happened."
A lot of people here claimed we can'r compare Triple AAA to single A ball clubs and they're right, however economic impact for triple AAA should be much higher as the stadiums are bigger and the stars are bigger. This one facet of the Gwinnett article just obliterated the pro side argument of economic impact.

This article as fascinating in its analysis of Gwinnett and "laid bare" the distortions the pro side has used for all to see. This article confirmed with a recent example all the arguments we've made AGAINST the stadium.
But people have to vote against it to reject it. So far I'm pretty happy with the anecdotal evidence I've seen and heard regarding the vote so far.

There are many other uses for that property down town OTHER than government owned buildings and our down town is not as "run down" as other cities.
It's time to say "no" to large sports empires. Its time for THEM to come to the table with more equitable proposals - to share the cost. Buying and moving a team is a part of their business (not ours) they've done it before and will do it again.

Vote NO for peace of mind - vote NO to keep a bigger piece of your hard earned money

Vog

Another point overlooked

the Braves Class A & AA teams were located right down I-64 from Richmond. Made it easy on the players to move up or down in the organization; and probably less expensive as players cover their own relocation costs.

So they move the AAA team to within 30 minutes or so of the Big League franchise.

The primary beneficiary there, the club as it reduces the time required to call a player up.

A Wilmington taxpayer asks "Mr. Answer Man" a question.

Dear Mr. Answer Man,

The other night, on Halloween, two of my friends were arguing over who’s scarier; Carnival Sideshow Barkers or Professional Baseball People. At first I thought that was a really silly argument but, now that I think about it, I’m not so sure. Who’s right?

ILM Taxpayer

_____________________________________________________________________

Dear ILM Taxpayer,

That sure sounded like a crazy question at first but, because you live in Wilmington, I can certainly understand why you would ask it.

Carnival Barkers always promise you something that’ll probably never live up to your expectations once you’ve paid them for the price of admission to whatever sideshow they’re selling admission to. The dancing girl is always prettier than the Queen of Sheba; the Wild Man from Borneo is always the wildest man ever, etc. I’m sure you get the idea. The Carnival Barker always makes sure to tell you that the cost of admission is so low you’d almost have to be crazy not to purchase a ticket. The Carnival Barker will move from town to town selling the same story wherever he can.

The Baseball Person will do essentially the same thing. A new stadium, for example, will be the greatest thing that’ll ever come to your town. Additional revenues will flood into your town like a tsunami. It’ll have all kinds of promised uses and your city will be so proud of it, all of the citizens will get together for a gigantic hug fest every week. The Baseball Person will also makes sure to tell you that the cost is so low (as little as one fast food meal a week) that you’d almost have to be crazy not purchase a “ticket”.

Both of them will obviously promise you anything in order to extract some money from your wallet. The Carnival Barker will probably be in your town for about a week and then he’ll move on. Unless you’re an idiot, he’s not going to be able to fool you twice once you’ve been inside the tent. The Baseball Person pretty much assumes he’s only going to get one chance to be able to fool you as well. The difference is, even if you only get fooled once by the Baseball Person, you’ll still have to pay the price of admission each and every night for the next twenty years instead of just once, regardless of whether or not you even “go into the tent” or regardless of whether the “carnival” is even still in town!

That’s what makes the Baseball Person so much scarier. Neither one will actually tell you the truth but in one instance you’ll be out some pocket change, in the other it’ll be something that’ll affect you for decades. For your sake, ILM Taxpayer, I can only hope that you'll give that some serious consideration before you vote on this stadium referendum!

Mr. Answer Man

Excellent post.

Excellent post. Unfortunately, there are people out there who will still buy into it.

New Stadium

I live literally 5 feet, maybe less from the wilmington city boundary. Our neighborhood is in a bubble that will eventually become part of the city. When I went to vote, I didn't realize that this vote pertains only to those living in the city.

I am very thankful that there are so many intelligent voters to say No to the ballpark. I'm hopeful that there aren't just as many unintelligent people that vote just because they like the sport of baseball.

I know first hand that this town cannot support a baseball stadium. There just isn't enough interest. I didn't even think of the future maintenance costs and I was already saying no but now I really am worried.

Baseball is a dying sport

Baseball is a dying sport and it would be foolish to waste taxpayer money putting a stadium downtown. Simply put the "old, local money crowd"are the only people that want the stadium and they are using their vast influence to force everyone into paying for it. If they want it so bad, why don't they dig into their bank accounts and fund it instead of asking everyone else to do so.

Deja Vu

"A study plumped Gwinnett as "an ideal location" and "one of the strongest markets in the country" for a minor-league club. The paper said surveys showed "overwhelming support" for the proposal."

That sounds so familiar ... Hmm ... I can't quite put my finger on it, but I think something like that was said in another city not too long ago! ... Drat! ... It's right on the tip of my tongue ... Some city starting with the letter "W" I think ...............

OH no! ..... I just remembered!

I SURE HOPE OTHER PEOPLE REMEMBER TOO BEFORE THEY VOTE!

It would be a shame if folks around here got suckered into the SAME kind of deal those poor people in other cities got suckered into!

Either the Mayor and

Either the Mayor and commissioners are completely incompetent or have deep rooted ulterior motives. Either way, anyone who proposed and / or votes for this stadium should be tarred and feathered.
Shame on ALL of YOU!

There you have it

Private investment built the Diamond in Richmond; I believe in 1986. Bobby Ukrops led the private group of investors which solicited funds and built the ball park with ample parking. And it was adjacent to I-95 for easy access and egress.

Government has no business in financing a private venture such as a ball park.

Here's proof it does not work. Here's proof all of the lofty projections put forth by the Pro side are inflated and unrealistic.

Did you notice the comment about ticket prices rising?

Vote NO for the referendum.

Baseball Facts

If you take the time to read this article you will see all the lies we have been told have been repeated at other locations. They must have a handbook.I especially like the win/lose expose. The teams win and the tax payers lose.

Thank You WWAY!

I had been teeterng on my vote come Tuesday... This sure helps when I get in to the voting booth.

Read Their Agreement

Gwinnett's deal with Atlanta is almost exactly the same as the proposed Wilmington deal. Ask the folks of Gwinnett how that's working out for them.

Except Gwinnett is about 30

Except Gwinnett is about 30 minutes from Atlanta. Who would want to go to a AAA game when you could drive 30 minutes and go to a major league game. It was a dumb idea in the first place to move from Richmond. THe only thing i see applicable from that article is posssible additional cost during construction. An attendance comparison is not apples to apples give the locaiton.

Seriously, New York Support

Seriously, New York Support many minor league teams in the suburbs , Staten Island and Brooklyn. Gwinett is a good example of the lack of long term appeal of AAA ball in a limited market. Go to the beach in August or watch a baseball game in a sweltering stadium?

Except

Gwinnett and Atlanta have their schedules arranged so they don't both have home games at the same time. If anything, Gwinnett should be drawing some of these "true" Braves fans from Atlanta on Atlanta's off days.
Gwinnett county: population 900,000
Gwinnett county average household income: $69,000
Gwinnett: Triple-A

Combined population New Hanover, Brunswick, Pender counties: 365,000
Average household income: $46,000
Wilmington: Single-A

Gwinnett has the population, the income, and the opportunity to succeed, yet they are coming up with new tax on top of new tax to try and keep up with their stadium payments. Why on earth would you think Wilmington would have a better chance than they?

please pull your head out of

please pull your head out of the clouds my friend. you are delusional

You are as much of an idiot

You are as much of an idiot as the Mayor and his cronies. To try and discount this article based on the proximity of the locations is a huge insight into the depth of your denial. There was not one positive point in this article. The article even generalized about the economics of stadiums. Get a clue!

Except

"Except Gwinnett is about 30 minutes from Atlanta. Who would want to go to a AAA game when you could drive 30 minutes and go to a major league game."

Then why did the Braves sell this project to the people of Gwinnett? It was/is a pig in a poke, just like the project that is proposed for Wilmington. They also sold out the people that they took the team away from in Richmond. The Braves only have "their" best interest at heart and could care less about the people they trick into funding their stadiums. If they were required to pay for their own stadiums, they would be less likely to move every time the wind blows.........Richmond could/will be the blueprint of what will happen here..........Actions speak louder than words......Atlanta only cares about Atlanta, regardless of what others have invested!

Rick

"Then why did the Braves sell this project to the people of Gwinnett?"

Why not? Atlanta has a metro population of 5 million and we all KNOW Atlanta can't sell out their own stadium - so why not sell Gwinnett on the idea of a stadium?

OF course you are right, Atlanta only cares about Atlanta and so long as they didn't pay for it they didn't/don't care - which is exactly how they feel about Wilmington.

I DO agree with the guy that said it was too close - because, it was too close. But that's NOT why it failed - after all stadiums have "other" uses, so.......ooooopppppppps - I guess they wren't so popular either.

Vog

"THe only thing i see

"THe only thing i see applicable from that article is posssible additional cost during construction. An attendance comparison is not apples to apples give the location."

Thats absolutely wrong.
The gist of the article is that local government officials fell for the study that said this would thrive and their community and provide an economic benefit.
This is EXACTLY what has happened here - it's what happened in Gwinnett county and has happened across our country.
the studies used to promote these things is tragically flawed.

And - when you think about Gwinnett think about Richmond. They refused to cave into the Braves so the Braves up and left when Richmond refused to replace the Diamond for the team.

The people supporting this venture for us are short sighted and like ostriches have their heads buried in the sand.
Think about it.....
If NSS is wrong we're in for some very hard lessons to be learned.
The study was flawed in Gwinnett.......

vog