Rivard: Mayor Taylor’s $75 Million Swing and a Miss

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The San Antonio Missions mascots Henry the Puffy Taco and Ballapeno pose for a photo with Mayor Ivy Taylor and SA Missions owner Dave Elmore marking Elmore's 30 years as owner of the minor league baseball team. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

Iris Dimmick / Rivard Report

Former Mayor Ivy Taylor, Missions owner Dave Elmore, and mascots Henry the Puffy Taco and Ballapeño.

Mayor Ivy Taylor and her supporters might be right to call for a new $75 million downtown sports venue, but baseball is the wrong sport and the 2017 bond is the wrong funding mechanism.

At the risk of facing a few fastballs to the head from those who see a field of dreams in view of the Tower of the Americas, I’d argue that the mayor and City Council should use that $75 million to create jobs and a new wave of economic development in and near the central business district.

The Wrong Sport & the Right Sport

Baseball is the sport of boys and men of a certain age. It remains popular, but no longer occupies the same place in American culture it once did. It’s a last century sport, it’s expansion days over. Those who see minor league baseball as key to a vibrant downtown are in the grip of nostalgia, especially if they think such an investment might lead one day to the arrival of Major League Baseball. It isn’t going to happen.

Soccer is the sport of boys and girls, both of whom grew up playing the game. Now, more and more young adults have become fans of “the beautiful game.” The U.S. Women’s National Team won the World Cup in December, defeating Japan in a game staged in Vancouver that drew a worldwide audience of 750 million and a U.S. audience that set a record for the most-viewed men’s or women’s soccer match. Soccer is a next century sport, and the U.S. market is growing fast.

Major League Soccer now has franchises in 20 cities (17 in the U.S., three in Canada) and plans to grow to 24 teams by 2020. If Spurs Sports & Entertainment, owners of the new San Antonio FC soccer team, are willing to pay the MLS franchise fee for league entry, San Antonio eventually could have major league soccer.

Franchises are thriving in Portland, Columbus, Salt Lake City and other regional cities, with average attendance exceeding average attendance at NBA and NHL games. Given San Antonio’s majority Hispanic population and its geographic and cultural proximity to Mexico, soccer is as close to a sure bet as the city will get.

Using Public Funds to Build a Stadium for Private Owners

Economists have long argued that using public funds to build sports facilities is of little benefit to anyone except the ownership group and season ticket holders. Once constructed, new sports facilities generate little in the way of good jobs or economic development in the surrounding area. The Alamodome and AT&T Arena have both failed to generate neighborhood development.

On the other hand, both venues have contributed significantly to the city’s profile, and both have brought major sporting events that otherwise would not have come here, from the Men’s and Women’s Final Four to the annual Alamo Bowl. A minor league baseball stadium is unlikely to attract events that generate the number of visitors and the kind of spending that come with college football or basketball.

As a Rivard Report story noted earlier this week, the Obama administration included a proposal in the 2016 budget it submitted to Congress that would prohibit cities from using tax-exempt bonds to finance sports venues. The Treasury Department said it was not a responsible use of municipal funds.

While the Alamodome and the AT&T Arena have contributed to the sports economy and culture of the city, that’s no argument for using scarce bond dollars to give Dave Elmore and his company, the Elmore Sports Group, a new stadium. Elmore doesn’t even live in Texas.

The Spurs ownership group, in contrast, has made considerable private investment in the AT&T Arena, and have shown themselves to be strong corporate citizens with a deep commitment to San Antonio. These are not owners who will skip to the next city for a better deal.

Elmore, on the other hand, has owned the Double-A Missions baseball team for 30 years, and he owns six minor league teams across the U.S. He has no interest in paying a share of the $75 million for a new downtown ballpark. Sure, he’ll take a free stadium and upgrade the market from Double-A to Triple-A, but what does that really do for San Antonio’s economy and job base?

 The Opportunity Cost

Every student in Economics 101 learns about “opportunity cost,” generally defined as the value of the next best alternative use of the money that is foregone when a spending choice is made. In other words, what catalytic idea will not be funded if City Council spends $75 million on a ballpark?

Two vital corridor projects come to mind, each a three-mile stretch of a major street where public investment via the bond will trigger significant new private sector investment and development.

That first such corridor is Broadway from Hildebrand Avenue to East Houston Street, home to the Pearl, the Cultural Corridor, and the greatest spike in urban core growth since HemisFair ’68. Centro San Antonio has worked with a baseball consultant to identify potential stadium sites, but has not taken a position on Mayor Taylor’s proposal. Centro also is leading an effort financed by various stakeholders along Broadway to determine the cost of a redesign and the return on investment if the project is included in the 2017 bond.

The project and a related citywide ideas competition that drew nearly 100 entries were the subject of substantial coverage published in March on the Rivard Report. Build a baseball stadium and there will be no money to undertake other major downtown projects in the bond. Broadway, which has been targeted for redesign over at least three bond cycles, once again will be bypassed.

Ask yourself  this question: Do you want Mayor Taylor and City Council to give $75 million to the absentee owner of the Missions if it means turning their backs on the Broadway stakeholders who live in San Antonio and have invested hundreds of millions of dollars along Broadway?

The second corridor project is Roosevelt Avenue from Mission Road to Mission San José, a long-neglected three-mile path from downtown through the World Heritage district. Roosevelt is wide and could become a showcase boulevard to the Missions, with trees and protected bike lanes making it an ideal companion pathway along with the Mission Reach of the San Antonio River.

The people of this city’s Southside need to see a strong signal from elected officials that their time has come, and that World Heritage public investments will benefit people in San Antonio first, visitors second. Infrastructure investment and beautification of public spaces in the district must begin in earnest with the 2017 bond.

It won’t happen if we spend our money on folly.

Only 10 days ago, City Council was talking about a back-to-basics approach for the next five-year (2017-2022) capital budget cycle. How we spend that money over those five years is being debated and decided right now by City staff and officeholders. Mayor Taylor’s vision for a new ballpark by 2019 would slice off 10% of the expected $750 million bond.

By the City staff’s own reckoning, San Antonio has a growing deficit of infrastructure spending that now exceeds $3 billion or more in neglected streets, sidewalks, drainage and parks. Even if City Manager Sheryl Sculley were willing to increase the bond from $750 million to $1 billion, as some of us would like to see, it still would not be enough to meet current infrastructure needs — even if 100% of the bond were dedicated to the urban core at the expense of the fast-sprawling outreaches of the city.

A Bad Soccer Stadium Deal

 

L to R: County Judge Nelson Wolff, emcee Andrew Monaco, Councilman Mike Gallagher (D10), Bobby Perez of SS&E, and Gordon Hartman, owner of the now-defunct San Antonio Scorpions. Photo by Lea Thompson.

L to R: County Judge Nelson Wolff, emcee Andrew Monaco, Councilman Mike Gallagher (D10), Bobby Perez of SS&E, and Gordon Hartman, owner of the now-defunct San Antonio Scorpions. Photo by Lea Thompson.

 

A $75 million stadium built with public funds to house a minor league baseball team would only add to the mistakes the City and Bexar County made in November in their deal to acquire Toyota Field for $18 million from developer Gordon Hartman, an agreement that included Spurs Sports & Entertainment paying Hartman an additional $3 million. The Spurs won a 20-year stadium lease and agreed to pay the City and County $2.5 million each if an MLS franchise is not landed within six years.

The problem is public funds were used to buy a soccer-specific stadium built in the wrong place that is less than half the size of a MLS stadium. That won’t be so bad as long as it doesn’t lead to eventual stadium expansion there.

Toyota Field, now home to San Antonio FC and originally opened in 2013 by San Antonio Scorpions owner Hartman, holds 8,296 fans for a soccer match, less than half the capacity of a standard MLS stadium. It’s also located in traffic-congested northeast San Antonio off I-35. It’s adjacent to Morgan’s Wonderland, Hartman’s park for special needs children. Otherwise, there is no logical reason for it to be located where it is.

San Antonio would be smarter to let the San Antonio FC team take root in the city, and begin to lay long-term plans for building an 18,000-20,000 seat MLS soccer stadium downtown or near-downtown. Citizens would be more likely to support such a venture if it brought a major league sport to the city, and one that was well-managed by local ownership. The Spurs have given San Antonio as much or more as San Antonio have given the Spurs. Voters are far more likely to invest in the Spurs seeking a downtown MLS stadium because they are so trusted and beloved. Even then, the owners should contribute a significant sum for a new stadium. A corporate sponsor purchasing the naming rights also would help.

Toyota Field eventually can become a venue for college and high school sports events if San Antonio graduates to MLS stature. The league wants its venues located in or near downtowns. Owners of other MLS expansion franchises have born 100% of the costs of building soccer-specific stadiums. Mayor Taylor or her eventual successor should not be afraid to negotiate a deal that is good for taxpayers and good for Spurs Sports & Entertainment.

San Antonio shouldn’t have to beg out-of-town team owners to come here or stay here. We are a better city than that now, one that should be open to partnerships, but not to handouts. Let’s maximize the size and impact of the 2017 bond, and bring the city’s neglected infrastructure up to standards while funding projects that deliver a real return on investment.

San Antonio will be a better city.

 

https://rivardreport.wildapricot.org

 

This story was originally published on Sunday, April 10.

Top Image: Mayor Ivy Taylor, Missions owner Dave Elmore, and mascots Henry the Puffy Taco and Ballapeño. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

Related Stories:

Mayor Calls for Downtown stadium, Triple-A Baseball Team by 2019

Cartoonist John Branch on City’s Efforts to Bring Triple-A Baseball to San Antonio

SAISD To Sell Properties, Construct New Central Office

Mayor in Talks to Bring Baseball into Downtown San Antonio

Major League Baseball Lands in the Alamodome

The Case for Major League Baseball in San Antonio

City & County to Purchase Toyota Field in Bid for MLS Team

53 thoughts on “Rivard: Mayor Taylor’s $75 Million Swing and a Miss

  1. I’m for the upgrade to our baseball program and stadium downtown, and for a more shared risk financing model. There are many financial models possible. Dedicated use models are un-creative and wasteful — this facility could be adaptable for varied use (though soccer and baseball are hard with overlapping seasons) or a dual use facility with the economies of shared central services. Where is the creativity? Anyone who has attended major conventions in other cities have also seen sports fields used for outdoor events, including concerts wherein this could be a complement to the convention center complex. I wish we’d had the forethought to build the stadium where the Missions now play in a central location, downtown. The suburban development model, now 70+ years in is fundamentally flawed, and this notion of placing infrastructural projects there and there outside of the central city, especially sans transportation alternatives, in the hopes of sparking economic development is equally flawed.

  2. “People will come. They’ll come to San Antonio for reasons they can’t even fathom. They’ll turn up Houston Street not knowing for sure why they’re doing it. They’ll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. ‘Of course, we won’t mind if you have a look around…it’s only $20 per person.’ They’ll pass over the money without even thinking about it; for its money they have and peace they lack….people will come….the one constant through all the years has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past. It reminds us of all that once was good, and it could be again. Ooooohhhh, people will come. People will most definitely come. ”

    Baseball fans understand there’s a magic and culture that no other sport can create. Major League Baseball is thriving in cities all over the country. San Antonio, unfortunately, doesn’t understand what they are missing.

  3. Rarely do these taxpayer-funded stadia end up in the best location for urban development. Instead, we typically find the cheapest land off a highway (often in a disadvantaged area for political reasons), thereby ensuring that patrons will arrive and depart by personal vehicle and do nothing for surrounding businesses.

  4. Excellent piece and a superb reminder that San Antonio voters are the boss and have the power to stop their Council from these fiscal abuses. It is time to put priorities first — basic city services and using economic development funds for that purpose.

    In 1995, Austin voters didn’t even have to complete a referendum petition drive calling for a public vote on $20M for a baseball stadium. The City Council was so embarrassed they were forced to put it up for a public vote. It went down 2 to 1.

    I also can’t resist stating that Taylor and her cronies must feel perfectly empowered to keep pulling these stunts after the $3.4B for Vista Ridge, a water pipeline bringing water to the region the city cannot use for decades if ever. It was…and is…an abuse of an entire region and no less than two aquifers.

  5. I disagree with putting a stadium downtown. I think we have bigger issues and should be focusing on them. They have to give away ticket to most sporting events except the Spurs games because their is not enough interest. SA likes varied entertainment. If it doesn’t have the ability for multiple use, don’t build it with tax payer money.

  6. Here’s an interesting cautionary tale from Phoenix from just two weeks ago:

    http://www.foxsports.com/mlb/story/diamondbacks-move-chase-field-lease-leave-arizona-phoenix-relocate-032416

    The Diamondbacks started playing in Arizona in 1998 in a “stadium [that] cost the county more than $200 million in the mid-’90s.” Now they are asking for more public money.

    “The Diamondbacks say the county has failed to make $187 million in repairs to the ballpark, and if the Diamondbacks determine a retrofit of Chase Field isn’t feasible and if the county doesn’t grant permission for the team to look elsewhere” then they are basically threatening to leave the park and the city behind.

    These privately owned sports teams are just that, private. They generally are not concerned about things like civic pride. They’re all about the profit motive. Do we really want to follow Phoenix down that road and build ourselves this single use sinkhole? I think Mayor Taylor may have watched “Field of Dreams” one too many times.

  7. This is the first article I have read that admits that Toyota Stadium is not going to be accepted by MLS for the location of one of their franchises–that MLS is favoring downtown stadiums only! Unfortunately, though, the Rivard Report was supporting the city/county purchase of Toyota Field as a possible MLS franchise location when the purchase occurred. If they had been reading out-of-town news sources where MLS was actively negotiating and locating teams, they would have known that Mr. Hartman was selling because he had already seen the writing on the wall–that he owned a stadium that MLS would admire but never accept as a location for one of their franchises.

    I hope that others will begin to realize that expecting MLS at Toyota Field is a lost cause. The key thing to realize now is that San Antonio is in a race with Austin for MLS and that Austin will get it if they agree to build a downtown stadium before San Antonio does.

    • It is incorrect to state that the Rivard Report supported the purchase of Toyota Field. I did not write about it at the time because I was recovering from a car accident and working a limited schedule. –RR

      • What I should have said is that The Rivard Report wrote two articles about the purchase without questioning its feasibility. If there are articles with no editorial statements against something, readers tend to believe that a publication sees no problem with what is happening. It’s unfortunate that Mr. Rivard was ill at the time of the purchase. With the expansion of staff that The Rivard Report has had in recent months, I hope that plans exist so that editorials about questionable major moves by government can be written at the time they happen.

  8. I agree completely with Mr. Rivard. The discredited Chamber of Commerce has nerve to lead the spending taxpayers money for such folly. Ask them where is the NFL team that they promised if we spent money to build an Alamodome. I am still waiting!

  9. The baseball debate aside: If this proceeds, I encourage all involved parties (especially the city) to embrace a creative process that sheds the traditional notions of a standalone, civic stadium solely paid for by city debt built upon an economic impact argument. Why cannot these spaces be multi-purpose? Why not integrated into larger public park space with other interactive activity? Why not as part of a larger, privately developed work/play space (such as Pearl)? Why not with a soccer stadium that could enable shared, more efficient/economical infrastructure (parking decks, HVAC systems, offices, freight docks/storage, concessions, etc? Why not a space that is easily adapted for larger scale outdoor performance? The are many more questions and ideas that could emerge. It is important to consider ideas in the context of what is possible and as an opportunity that to shoot it down simply based on narrow ideas of how it is always done, like it cannot be done differently and better, perhaps. Such narrow ideas of what is and isn’t a “given” is the same thinking that lead so many to fight against streetcar/light rail for example. Should the starting point in a discussion of one idea be the immediate assumption that it automatically eliminates other ideas (ie. visionary thinking for the Broadway corridor, for which I’m enthusiastically supportive). Yes, the budgets are limited, but I thinking about possibilities should not be.

  10. I agree with all points. Right time, wrong sport. Mayor Taylor should keep her focus squarely on SS&E and their quest to get an MLS franchise here. As you mentioned, Toyota Field, while a great facility, wouldn’t be sufficient for an MLS expansion team. Even at maximum capacity (18k), it would still be around 3-4k short of accommodating even the average MLS crowd. And for those teams in the upper-echelon of MLS attendance, we would need a venue capable of seating at least 40-50k people. I’ve seen many soccer games at the Alamodome, and while it can easily host crowds of this size, it’s not an ideal venue for soccer (the seat angles are bad). A large soccer-specific venue capable of hosting concerts, etc. would be perfect. Of course, I wouldn’t support the funding unless we had a firm expansion commitment from MLS. Until then, Toyota Field is just fine.

  11. I’m against the ballpark downtown for many reasons.

    We need a MLB Team located between San Antonio and Austin. That is the only winning formula for EITHER pro Baseball or Football in this area. AAA doesn’t get you there.

    Soccer is a Socialist game. Build some nice Socialist Soccer Fields here and there and enjoy yourself. Socialists don’t make money…or pay top ticket prices to go see the game. That is a FACT. The only way professional Soccer works here is if it is subsidized by people who make money…..who couldn’t care less about Soccer.

    Get all the Socialists together and get them all jobs delivering pizza nights to pay for THEIR Soccer Team.

    • You must be a very educated specimen… Glad to have you on this earth!
      After enlightening us with your genius, please go back to you rifle-stuffed trailer, and cuddle with your bible and constitution.

  12. Bob, I couldn’t agree more. San Antonio does not need to subsidize the efforts of an absentee owner of baseball franchises. Mayor Taylor loses credibility arguing for such a boondoggle especially since she is supposedly the champion of fiscal responsibility. We need to invest, as you say, in local projects already underway. Not to mention, have you tried sitting through an outdoor baseball game in Texas in the August summer heat?

    Since the article is about proposed and ill-advised major sports venues in this city, I must also mention the loss of the Pecan Valley Golf Course here in San Antonio over four years ago. During the Masters’ telecast yesterday, the CBS announcers mentioned that Julius Boros, age 48 at the time, is still the oldest winner of a Grand Slam golf tournament.

    In 2012, developers bulldozed the famous course on the under-served and poor southeast quadrant, and said they would turn the course into a nine-hole golf mecca for wounded warriors. Drive by Pecan Valley Golf Course today, and you see an abandoned, trash-filled valley of weeds. I have yet to read a follow-up story on how they were able to get away with these lies.

  13. Bigtime Pro Sports only exist where the Wealthy support the team. AAA baseball is doable because it is such small scale that you can fill the little stadium up and stay in the black. But…it is a joke to suggest that AAA leads to MLB. It does not….because MLB requires Big Corporate Money….and Season Ticket Sales from the wealthy. Pro Baseball or Pro Football will only happen here with a facility between Austin and San Antonio…done right…period. Soccer does not have the corporate support or the wealthy ticket buyers to support a pro team at any level….not yet. Let Mayor Taylor do her AAA thing. I’ll go once in awhile and so will everyone else and it will just about pay for itself. A good piece in the local puzzle. But……..the Austin/San Antonio partnership is what she should be working on.

  14. It would be incredible if SSE/The city worked out a deal to build an MLS stadium downtown… But Toyota Field was built to be expanded to MLS capacity. There are support beams sticking out all over the stadium waiting to hold up a second level. I think that was part of the appeal to the city and county about this stadium: it will cost less to expand Toyota Field than it will to acquire land downtown and build a 20k seat stadium on it.

  15. How about a compromise that will be extremely popular to the majority of Hispanics in San Antonio (not to leave out the groups of SA). Let’s build an MLS size stadium downtown, that will be attractive to the West and Southside. This will take care of any attendence issue. We would become an MLS overnight. The bond would easily pass. The revenue made from this can pay for infrastructure throughout the city. It will bring more vibrancy to the urban core. Everyone wins.

  16. I definitely don’t think baseball is the way to go — this city clearly has enough fans to support MLS, and if it’s a pro sport they want that is what should be installed in or near downtown. I lived near Durham and can tell you that even the Durham Bulls did not manage to rejuvenate that part of downtown Durham. Minor leagues never will… but went to the first home game for San Antonio FC last night and there was a LOT of energy and excitement! Thanks for the article, Robert.

  17. Personally I like having the stadium so close to my house. It’s an easy exit off 135 and wurzbach Pkwy. You don’t have to have everything downtown. It makes it too congested. Look at what has happened in Atlanta. Fulton County stadium then Turner field now they are moving all the way up north on 85. And the Falcons want a new stadium. And exactly where are they going to build it? Dallas Cowboys aren’t in Dallas either and nobody seems to mind tickets there.

  18. Yes, let’s be practical, and take care of our infrastructure first. What’s wrong with repurposing the Alamodome? It’s big enough for baseball and soccer. This is what comes of living in a throw away society. Using public funds for private endeavours is unethical. Transportation should be a priority considering our city’s explosive population growth.

    That huge parking lot next to the Alamodome, is impractical and badly planned. It needs to be a 12 story parking garage, that can supplement the city’s income all year around.

  19. Thinking about the City’s new asset Toyota Field and San Antonio FC (as well as SA Tomorrow ambitions for retrofitted walkable centers throughout greater SA) . . . improving the pedestrian links between Roosevelt High School/Rackspace, Randolph Park-n-Ride and Toyota Stadium/Morgan’s Wonderland might be one of the best 2-3 mi pedestrian corridors to re-design with 2017 bonds or other funds – as supported with much improved VIA bus transit out there.

    Unfortunately, VIA seems hesitant to use 281/37 as well as 410 like local drivers do to link key activity centers and shrink the city.

    An easy way to improve VIA transit and achieve some of the City’s Toyota Field as well as SAT airport and other goals would be to make SAT airport more of a VIA hub this year – including by linking the 93 express bus (UTSA main) and 94 express bus (Rim) with the 17 express bus (Randolph Park-n-Ride) at SAT airport, adding a stop at Toyota Stadium/Morgan’s Wonderland to the current 17 express bus route and running the 17-93/94 express bus ‘line’ as a two-way loop route instead.

    See VIA’s current schedules here: http://www.viainfo.net/busservice/schedules.aspx

    Currently VIA’s 17-93/94 bus covers the roughly 13 miles from downtown to Randolph Park-n-Ride (less than 2 miles from Toyota Field and 6 miles from the airport) in about 30 minutes – not bad at all, especially considering the time gains of not having to worry about parking or driving. UTSA Main to Randolph Park-n-Ride (18 miles) is currently over an hour on the 94 bus via downtown despite it being a 25 minute drive between these two points. UTSA Main to the airport (14 miles driving) is currently a two hour multiple-transfer VIA bus ride winding through downtown.

    Along with linking the 93/94 and 17 express buses at SAT (to increase access to the airport and Toyota Field as well as downtown), the need to re-establish a downtown-to-SAT airport express bus (the 10 route of the 1980s) is obvious to any traveler or visitor or student – including to better position SAT as the region’s top airport.

    A PRIMO or express bus should run between SAT and the Convention Center via 281/37 with a stop at the Quarry en route.

    A new SAT-Quarry-Convention-Center express bus line could also easily be extended to Brooks City Base Transit Center via 281/37, linking with planned southwest PRIMO expansion there (See http://www.expressnews.com/news/local/article/VIA-plans-to-add-Primo-routes-on-South-and-West-6481760.php?t=5cb84f1dac988a2b53&cmpid=twitter-premium).

    Strengthening VIA express bus links between existing and developing activity hubs in the greater SA area (The Rim, UTSA main, Crossroads, Centro Plaza, Convention Center/Alamodome, Brooks City Base, The Quarry, Randolph Park-n-Ride, Toyota Field, SAT) using the existing highway system should be the aim of 2016-17 – including to link seemingly disparate City goals and areas. This investment is needed now to help create some of the conditions needed to support the retrofitted walkable centers throughout San Antonio envisioned with SA Tomorrow planning.

    Directing resources towards improving SA’s express bus network as outlined above – with SAT airport as a key VIA bus hub this year – should by Mayor Taylor’s focus to connect the dots of various current efforts including stadium investment and planning (as well as to deliver on the campaign promise of improved northwest-to northeast and vice versa transit options).

    Tricentennial visitors should have the option to take express public transit to downtown from the airport as well as to San Antonio FC matches and other key events and spots. Improved VIA express bus service (supporting current and planned VIA routes, private ride hailing as well as walkable centers) could be in place by 2017 if not sooner with the right City leadership in the next key few months.

  20. This would put a shadow on my admiration for Mayor Taylor…I thought she was smarter than this…..and represented all of the Citizens of San Antonio. This smells of Nelson Wolff and child like dreams to build a legacy. Why do we need 2 failed venues in downtown San Antonio (Alamo Dome and The Big Bad Wolff Stadium).

  21. Similar to what Bob was saying. A downtown stadium funded by a bond measure does not sound like “back-to-basics” to me.

    Knowing most projects of this size, if approved, the final price tag will likely double. If private owners want a downtown sports stadium, they can spring the cash for it.

    $75MM could do a good deal for public transit maintenance and expansion.

  22. Yes, because downtown isn’t traffic congested, cramped, crammed, or ….. oh wait that’s exactly what it is. The location of Toyota Field is JUST FINE, and actually gives better access to the team to the populous that lives just north.

    If you actually look at the breakdown of the Greater San Antonio area and where the biggest pots of people are …. the stadium location looks even better.

  23. Very few individuals would drive to San Antonio to see a Triple A baseball game. Have their been studies on the number of fans outside the metropolitan area who frequent Mission games? On the other hand, fans prefer watching the best. Can you imagine if San Antonio signed a superstar from Mexico? Can you imagine if San Antonio were playing America or Chivas in an exhibition game? Sadly, because I was raised on baseball, the beautiful game has replaced the boring game. Kudos to Mr. Rivard on his futuristic perspective.

  24. Success of Downtown stadiums is really a mixed bag. While I like the concept, I don’t think our city has the vision, skill or money to do it right. I think if you look at the data on Downtown stadiums, the most successful ones are a public-private partnership, not totally city-funded. Even with this model, though, I don’t think another Downtown stadium is the best use of limited land available in our Downtown. I see a location in near South San Antonio (perhaps Concepcion or greater Mission Reach area) as an interesting idea and then complement that with public transit (RAIL, not bus) and a larger, mixed use development focused on walkable amenities. As others have said, it would be like another Pearl, but with the stadium as an element of the overall master plan.

    That being said, do I think we need to earmark $75mm for this? NO. We need roads, parks, economic development, and, most importantly–JOBS. And I’m talking high-paying, skilled jobs and the associated training that will give us a more educated workforce. While I understand the temptation to “shoot for the stars” with these headline-seeking initiatives, what will really make our city greater over the long term is investing in our people and businesses, not subsidizing a minor league baseball team.

  25. A ballpark downtown would be a nice addition, and it is likely that attendance to Missions games would benefit, if put in the right location, with opportunity and incentive for local business development, and funded properly (i.e. no less than a 50 percent owner investment). Columbus, Ohio relocated it’s Triple A team to a new downtown park reachable by foot. It’s been a great success, and stands to be paid off early.

    That said, I’d rather see public monies be used for infrastructure improvements that allow and require new developments to offer more pedestrian accessibility: widened sidewalks. There are a few new developments on Broadway that have gotten it right, but until the city requires wider sidewalks of all new projects (and itself takes some responsibility for doing less than the minimum code requirements, which have resulted in some newly installed, poorly designed, useless sidewalks too narrow for two people and built beeline around obstacles like street lights), the city will never have the pedestrian-friendliness of cities with better conceived urban areas. [http://nacto.org/publication/urban-street-design-guide/street-design-elements/sidewalks/].

  26. I like this article. I also like civic pride and public monies to leverage investment (the bonds will likely be TIF and stem from hotel / motel taxes and include a variety of public entities.

    What is the investment/risk/cost the owner is making to relocate and to actually own/could you find out? Agreed, the owner is not the best (isn’t there antitrust laws that apply and thereby allowing local investors in the mix – the league is at fault). 75m is high unless you upgrade surrounding infrastructure for a large area/neighborhood as part of the package….other ballparks are built with 35 to 50 million dollars.

    the owner should not get parking revenues or naming rights nor concession stand monies…it should go locally……..change the ‘traditional’ deal to benefit locally. Be innovative in negotiations and work with league.

    the ballpark should be multiuse and expandable to mlb ballpark dimensions.
    it should be integral to the land use/community fabric to foster existing businesses and foster more investment/revitalization.

    it should not be a go to game and then leave the game situation (a suburban solution like at the fox tech site)
    it should be an urban solution: go, hang out/eat before and after game around the ballpark..
    like the ballparks in Chicago and Boston which show how a ballparks can help a neighborhood economy thrive.

    two expansion teams are expected in five-seven years….the AAA team/location/downtown experience will establish a path to secure one of them.

    worse case scenario….we will have very affordable and family oriented community facility sustaining the local neighborhood economy / a team / and great experience downtown.

  27. Baseball provides 70+ days of consumer traffic downtown, soccer much less, but both have a following and would enhance the quality of life.

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