08-17-2012, 08:52 PM #21
I always find it fascinating to read and learn more about the economics of sports. One income source for the state, if not for the local economy, not talked about yet is income taxes. Anyone have any idea how that would affect the Florida economy at large and the FM economy locally? I must admit I wouldn't have a clue. I do know professional athletes pay state income taxes to several states dependant on where they are performing, correct?
08-17-2012, 09:02 PM #22
08-17-2012, 09:12 PM #23
08-17-2012, 10:09 PM #24
08-17-2012, 10:38 PM #25
Frankly, you miss the main point, which is SPRING TRAINING AND MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL DOES NOT NEED $45 million of taxpayer money spent on stadium improvements. Hammonds Stadium is fine just the way it is. But, our modern sports culture believes that they need to have all of the bells and whistles for "free", with the real costs borne by the taxpayers.
Here is another fact. The county still owes $20 million on the City of Palms park that was abandoned by the Red Sox to move (at taxpayers expense) to Jet Blue. You claim that spring training baseball "brings in" $25-50 million a year. I think that tourists that attend a spring training game might spend that total as tourist, but not all of it is incremenal spending i.e. much of that would be spent anyways. But lets assume your estimate, using a 6% sales tax, that means that the government recoveres $1.3 to $3.0 million in sales tax to cover all of their costs the have invested in the stadium. The low end of this estimate barely covers the costs of the paying off the EMPTY stadium, much less the $77.9 million Jet Blue Stadium and the proposed $45 million Hammonds Stadium renovations. And that is based on the assumption that ALL of the revenues are incremental revenues created just because of the stadium.
Again, if the renovations are so important the business owners i.e. the Minnesota Twins should pay for it themselves and pass along the costs to their customers. The team owners and the fans should not expect that the taxpayers should foot the bill.
And, if you want to include the minor league operations, the Miracle have a total attendence of less than 125,000. The highest ticket price is $7. That is less than $1 million total gate. They are already in over their heads stadium wise. Minor league baseball is great. But it cannot justify $5 million in stadium costs, much less $45.
Last edited by mlhouse; 08-17-2012 at 10:40 PM.
08-17-2012, 10:52 PM #26
mlhouse, what you seem to be missing (or ignoring) is that the terms of the Twins lease (which is a legally binding contract, by the way) with Lee County calls for Hammond to be maintained at a level with the five newest ST facilities in Florida. Then again, I guess to some people, contracts mean nothing.
If your community doesn't wish to live up to the terms of their contract with the Twins, that's fine. They'll go elsewhere and you can move on without the revenues that the Twins generate for your community. You and your neighbors will be worse off financially, but hey at least you'll be comforted by the fact that you didn't give any money to the big bad Twins owners.
08-17-2012, 11:01 PM #27
By the way, the Twins and other teams are no different than any other business. They don't own the property they use, they lease it from the owner. If my business leases commercial space from a landloard and that lease calls for the landloard to maintain the property up to certain standards, I damn well expect the landlord to keep his end of that contract. If he doesn't, I'll break the lease and go elsewhere and leave him with his empty property. If Lee County won't keep their end of the lease, that's exactly what the Twins should do. Leave Hammond empty and let Lee County (and their residents who are too principled to allow tax dollars to be used to assist an industry that brings millions of dollars of revenue in to the community) eat rocks.
08-18-2012, 06:36 AM #28
And I've been to a couple of Miracle games this year. Tickets are not $7. Gameday sales (which are usually the bulk of the sales at this level) are $7.50 and $9.50 (and $1 extra on fireworks nights). And don't forget parking at $3/vehicle. That may or may not change your overall numbers that much (I'm not going to bother to do the math) but your argument would be more cogent if your facts were straight.
Last edited by sbknudson; 08-18-2012 at 06:39 AM.
08-18-2012, 07:51 AM #29
As a Fort Myers resident (ST season ticket holder and Miracle season ticket holder), where were the Twins when it came to this election? Their heads were in the sand. There was an organized effort by outside special interests to defeat Ray Judah. There is a very strong anti-baseball contigent in Lee County. BTW, the hotel/motel taxes pay for baseball. When you as a Twins fan stays in one of hotels, part of the tax you pay goes to the Red Sox stadium. Also this stadium is used by the GCL team. The Red Sox GCL team uses the stadium for their games while the Twins GCL team plays on an outer field. As for the Twins to play hard ball, forget it. I have not read a single post here of where the Twins would go for ST. What community in FL and AZ would pay for a stadium. How many Twins fans want to pay higher airline costs to fly to AZ? The Twins do not sell out their ST games, saw plenty of empty seats at some of the games.
08-18-2012, 08:46 AM #30
Clubs moving their spring training facilities is not that uncommon. If there hasn't been any speculation on where the Twins would go, it's only because up until now nobody really believed the relationship with Lee County was in jeopardy.
My guess is that if the Twins made it known, either overtly or covertly, that they were looking for a new solution, options would become available. There has been more than one community that lost a ST team recently; perhaps one of them is ready to pony up for a better facility. If not, maybe the Twins are stuck. But I see no reason not to test the waters and see what's out there. That's not blackmail. That's what a responsible business does - look for the solution that best fits their needs. If the environment in Lee County is really that anti-baseball, that should be considered.
08-18-2012, 09:48 AM #31
08-18-2012, 11:33 AM #32
Yeah, JB is right. I like going to FL, but it would be no more expensive for me to go to AZ. There are plenty of discount airlines flying to AZ to keep costs down. In fact, in March it may be cheaper to fly to AZ since that's much less of a "Spring Break" destination than FL is. Demand for airline seats in March to FL is relatively high which makes those seats a bit pricey at times. May not be the case to AZ.
I don't really expect the Twins to leave Lee County. But sbknudson is absolutely right. They are a business and have a legally binding contract with Lee County regarding maintenance of the facility at a high level. If the County Commission decides not to honor that contract because the political winds in the area are blowing against baseball, the Twins absolutely should explore all options.
By the way, if Lee County fails to live up to the terms of the lease, good luck ever getting another organization to come to the area. They'll have demonstrated that their word is worthless because whoever the current Commissioners are can't be counted on to live up to the terms of contracts entered in to earlier. That is a dangerous reputation to establish with the business community.
08-18-2012, 11:56 AM #33
I think even for me who live on the Northeast, AZ to Fort Myers flights are about the same price; of course one could fly to Orlando for $99 from here in a 40 year old DC9 or 727, but that is a different story.
I enjoy Fort Myers and have many fine memories from ST there, but I'd go to AZ in a heart beat if the Twins move there.
The only issue I have with AZ spring training is that clubs share facilities. I enjoy being able to spend whole days in the minor league fields in the LCSC when the Twins have away games and watch the prospect and minor leaguers play. Or even spend a couple hrs in the MiLB fields before the Twins' home games. Not sure how the situation is in AZ as far as this goes in the shared facilities.
08-18-2012, 08:21 PM #34
Do you even know what you are talking about? The Twins want the taxpayers of Lee County to pay for all kinds of goodies, including $7.2 million in "Player Academy". They want $30 million in improvements on a structure that only cost $14 million ($23.9 million in current dollars) to build. There is no way that the Twins win this one based on the "maintenance" clause in the agreement.
There is also no way that the county gets value back to cover these costs and any economic analysis will reveal that. It is a facility that is used 17-20 times/year for Spring training. Right now, the stadium has a 7,500 seat capacity. For spring training, the total ticket revenue for 20 sold out spring training games at $30/ticket is $4.5 million. The cost, over 30 years at 4% interest of $45 million is $2.602 million. Sorry, if you think those numbers add up then you now nothing about business.
What the county should do is allow the Twins to market the naming rights for the stadium and negotiate minor improvements to the stadium at less than $10 million in cost. Even this is extreme blackmail and if the Twins want to bolt, I say good riddance. And, while it is very possible to move spring training sites it is not cost and risk free either. The existing Florida market is pretty much covered, particularly on the Gulf Coast side of the state and to improve on Hammond Stadium the Twins would need new construction. I doubt that there is a community on the Gulf that is financially interested in such a deal. There might be opportunities on the Atlantic side of the state, like the West Palm-Boca axis, but there are many reasons why the Twins are located on the Gulf Coast, particularly demographic reasons (Midwesterners flock to the Gulf, East Coast people to the Atlantic) and if the Twins chose that region that would be a huge risk. And, I doubt that they can get even close to as lucrative of a site in Arizona.
As a resident, I usually go to a Twins Spring Training game when family and friends come into town, and it is nice having my hometown team here. But, frankly, the experience is vastly overrated and insanely expensive to watch a part major-part minor league game. And
08-18-2012, 09:50 PM #35
Ok. Methinks that we are talking about apples and oranges. There is a high lever economic analysis in this thread suggesting that the Fort Myers area is getting a good $25-50 Million at least a year because the Twins are holding Spring Training there. That's the financial impact. Tickets are little of this, taxes are little of this. Hotel rooms, restaurant meals and miscellaneous consumption is the bulk of the money that goes to the pockets of people in Lee County. You lose that and you lose about 25% of the hotels and the restaurants in the area and about 10% of the stores. Wanna go there? Feel free.
Think of it as an infrastructure investment. If the county spends $10 million to add a lane to the highway do they get it back in their coffers? How about sewer and water improvement? Nope.
Last edited by thrylos98; 08-18-2012 at 09:52 PM.
08-18-2012, 09:58 PM #36
I think we've hit on the problem. If milhouse is an example of the typical local Lee County baseball fan, they clearly don't get what the Spring Training "experience" is for a significant portion of the ST visitors. We don't go down there to watch a game or two where the regulars play half the game. If that's all you see ST is about as a fan, then (a) you're cheating yourself, or (b) you're a pretty casual fan. And not many casual fans shell out a grand or more to spend several days attending a MLB Spring Training. As Thrylos indicated, in addition to the games, it's about spending time on the back fields watching MLB and minor league workouts and B games and minor league games and getting a good close look not only at the current Twins, but those that are coming up through the system. That's what we visitors pump millions of dollars a year in to your local economy for.
As a casual fan (and barely that), I would guess you have no idea what the standard is that's been set for the "five newest ballparks" in Florida. Those "goodies" you're whining about are exactly what's going in to those other facilities. Then again, you and the rest of the anti-baseball crowd have already made it well known that you don't give a rat's behind about the county honoring their side of the existing contract/lease.
Thry, from what I've been told, the AZ facilities are great. Yes, two teams may share a stadium, but that's just for games. I've been told both teams have their own set of facilities for workouts and minor leagues. Essentially, we'd be able to not only wander the fields and watch Twins prospects play, but could also go catch a bit of the prospects for whichever team shared the complex with the Twins. Not a bad set up. In fact, if Lee County was smart, they'd have done something similar with the Twins and Red Sox and/or Nationals. That wouldn't address their desire to put someone in the old City of Palms ballpark, though. Then again, I can't see how they con any team in to taking the Red Sox leftovers anyway.
08-19-2012, 12:17 AM #37
In reality, not all of the $50 million is incremental. Believe it or not, tourist come to Ft Myers for other things than Spring Training.
Next, your claim that Ft Myers would lose 25% of the hotels and restaurants and 10% of the stores is laughable. Again, lets assume the $50 million total you claim is ALL INCREMENTAL to Spring Training and would go away if the Twins moved to a different location. That is 0.4% of all taxable sales in the county. Clearly certain facilitites taht receive economic "rents" because of their location to the stadium or are directly related to the tourist trade might be impacted, but that is far from your overstated claims. And, again, that is assuming taht all of the $50 million leaves. It would not.
Lastly, your last comment addresses what the proper role of government should be. Local governments obviously have a role in sewer and water improvements and road construction. I would even argue that they could play some role in helping a project like improving Hammonds stadium (read above) and helping the Twins gain revenue (let them control the naming rights). But, $45 million to make these improvements is way beyond their role. If these improvements are needed, the Twins should make these improvements and charge the increases back to their customers, i.e. the Fans. If they cannot be charged back to the customers, then it clearly calls into question the true NEED for such improvements.
08-19-2012, 12:32 AM #38
let me put it this way (and this is the last effort I am going to make) :
Nothing incremental. And it is an annual $50 million dollar fall to your community. Not to taxes not to county coffers. Just to businesses and their employees. And some of that tickles down as taxes (whatever). And, seriously, if the Twins were to go away, about a third of the Fort Myers area Hotels will go away, a third of the restaurants, a third of the gas stations and about 10% of the rest of the businesses. And about 20-30% of the local airport flights at least, which might make them shut it down. Unemployment at like 20% over there. Not a pretty picture. Just sayin'
08-19-2012, 12:49 AM #39
Next, spending time on the back fields is free (except for a parking charge if you park on the field). You can go before the game and wander around, watch BP and other activities. That is another special value of spring training, but the vast majority of the fans have no clue who they are watching. One time I was watching a batting practice group of the aforementioned Lehmann, Trevor Ploufe, Deobeson Romero, Toby Gardenhire, and David Winfree. I bet that you woudl know who all of those farmhands were, and I did too. But the vast majority of the fans at Spring Training would not.
Next, completley laughing at your claim that the county is not fulfilling their end of the bargain! The word is "maintained" and that leaves a lot of interpetration. Clearly though, player dorms and academies are not part of maintenance ($7.2 million the Twins want the taxpayers to pay), and most likely much of the other improvements the Twins "require" are nothing but blue sky. Having attended a game in Jet Blue Stadium, that is a comparable stadium in all aspects except cost.
Lastly, your snide remarks about the Red Sox left overs are simply highlighting the mistakes local government officials make with taxpayers money. It is easy to spend and give into such threats. But, now the county is left with an empty facility that they still owe $20 million and will have to maintain and make secure. This is a similar mistake.
Like I said, I love having the Twins here. But, Spring Training is vastly overated. If they left because they cannot fleece the taxpayers of this county $45 million, then good riddance. It will have zero impact except for the empty promises the team made and if they can find bigger suckers somewhere else, then so be it.
Again, if these "improvements" are not worth an extra $1 or $3 or $5 to the PERSON GOING TO THE GAME, then how is it possible that they are worth it to the taxpayer who are not at the game? You people seem to beleive these improvements are so necessary, but clearly unwilling to pay for it yourself. You want all of the value but are not willing to bear the cost. It is sad that governments have worked themselves into this type of unnecessary spending and are blackmailed by these teams
08-19-2012, 01:02 AM #40
Next, as I have already explained to you, $50 million is 0.4% of the annual taxable sales in this county. I am not going to say "big deal", but, really, big deal. It isn't worth investing $45 million in acquiring (we already worked that out but it seems to be over your head).
Next, lets look at another of your claims. You claim that 20-30% of local airport flights would be lost. In 2011 there were 7.1 million flights into RSW. You are claiming that we would lose between 1.4 and 2.1 million flights a year because we would not have 20 baseball games here in Ft Myers. Sad that anyone can believe such claims, but apparently you do. I think the airport will be just fine. Based on this obvious hyperbole, I think this calls into question pretty much everyone of your other claims (Seriously, do you really believe that 33% of the gas stations would go away because of spring training?). And, most importantly, it really calls into question your original assertion that there is $50 million in INCREMENTAL revenues because of spring training. I believe that number is grossly inflated and most (but not all) of that spending would happen anyways as the snow birds come to Ft Myers and other tourists come to Marco Island, Sanibal Island, or Ft Myers Beach.
And, as usual, I will add this issue. If these improvements are so necessary that the great Twins fans like yourself, who love the game, watch the BP and prospects, are not willing to pay whatever the costs associated with these improvements in increased ticket prices, THEN THESE IMPROVEMENTS ARE NOT NECESSARY AND THE TAXPAYERS SHOULD NOT PAY FOR THEM.