Monday, March 06, 2006

Baseball and Real Estate

OK the bad idea for a new baseball stadium in Shockoe Bottom has fizzled and is no longer in play. Now comes what seems to me to be another bad idea for a new baseball stadium at the old Fulton Gas Works. However, this time Mayor Doug Wilder is not asking tough questions of the developers. No. This time he's on board with the movers and shakers behind the scheme.

What's the difference? I wish I knew.

So far we know less about the new deal, but on the face of it this one sounds like it might be nearly as bad as the aforementioned fizzler so many know-it-alls told us a year ago was a done-deal. The Richmond Braves general manager, Bruce Baldwin, was issuing ultimatums last spring. I wondered then how many hats he was wearing in that big deal, which seemed to be more about real estate than baseball.

Now, I wonder how the newest big deal is different. Isn’t it, too, mostly about real estate and who makes the money? Bill Glass, writing about the real estate aspects of the situation for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, seems less than convinced of the merits of the latest effort to replace The Diamond. His words ring true for me. That, while I'm a baseball fan, as well as a loyal Atlanta Braves fan, too.

"...Time Warner owns both the Atlanta Braves and the Richmond Braves. It is no secret that Time Warner is trying to sell the teams. My question is this: What incentive is there for Time Warner to spend its money for a new stadium when it plans to sell its baseball teams?

On the other hand, if there is a commitment to build a stadium without their dollars, doesn't it stand to reason that the value of the team increases to the benefit of (guess who) Time Warner?

Although there have been no details regarding the financing of a new stadium, you can bet that it will be the taxpayers who are on the hook.

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