No one shows up for Florida baseball and the myth of new stadiums

If you follow Major League Baseball, you know Florida’s two baseball teams are in trouble. The Miami Marlins are just bad, and the Tampa Bay Rays can’t draw fans.

The Marlins were just handed a brand new, tax payer funded, stadium that no one goes to. The Rays have been good, despite a low payroll, but they play in such a hideous ballpark that no one is willing to open their wallets for seats unless it is playoff time.

The Tampa Bay Tribune is reporting that Rays management knows the precarious position they’re in, explaining:

Cash in the form of Major League Baseball revenue-sharing is sustaining the Tampa Bay Rays, but the patience of other team owners is running low as they wait for the Rays to secure a new ballpark.

That’s a key point local business leaders took Wednesday from an hourlong discussion with Tampa Bay Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg and president Matt Silverman at the offices of the Tampa Bay Partnership, a nonprofit economic development organization.

The Rays are pushing the city of St. Petersburg to build them a new stadium, just like working families just paid for in Miami. But will that really make a difference? Real baseball fans will show up if they want the product, as evidenced by Fenway Park and the soon to be demolished Candlestick Park (SF Giants always drew decently well there).

But what lesson can the leaders of St. Petersburg learn from Miami? According to Miami Herald, quite a bit:

What has moving to Miami brought the Marlins? About 100 extra fans per game.

That’s the current gap between this year’s attendance and the average gate count for the Marlins’ last season at Sun Life Stadium, the football field that owner Jeffrey Loria blamed for the team’s long-standing attendance and revenue woes.

Those problems ended up following Loria to the government-owned Marlins Park, which is on track to face the worst fan rejection of a new baseball stadium in at least a generation.

The sad but very real truth is these new stadiums don’t generate revenue, they cost far more than they bring into local government. But politicians keep running to keep rich sports owners happy. The Atlanta Journal Constitution dove into the subject last year as talks continued on the construction of a new, possibly $1 billion, retractable roof football stadium for the Atlanta Falcons:

Despite the economic realities, cities continue to pursue new stadiums because of an industry “arms race,” the experts said. Owners don’t want to be last on the Forbes list of “most valuable teams” and elected leaders don’t want to be the one who loses a team to another city while in office. They will work to convince the public that the benefits outweigh the risks and that they have the formula for success.

“In part, it reflects the import some people put on having a major league sports team,” said Heywood Sanders, a professor of public administration at the University of Texas at San Antonio. “Los Angeles has not died because it does not have the Rams.”

The AJC reported that even the beloved SuperBowl cost the city of Indianapolis $1.3 million. And this is on top of the $10 million a year their new Lucas Oil Stadium is falling short each year.

I love my San Francisco Giants, but in no way does the presence of the team in the city make me want to live there. Fortunately for the city by the bay, the Giants ending up paying almost all the freight for their stadium and will reap the benefits when the debt service is finally paid off.

It will be a great day when cities tell owners to pay for it themselves or bug off.

Really? That is what you are covering?

Today established another low point in the long decline of the American news media (television primarily). With all the events in the world to cover, a small sampling of which includes Egypt, new Israeli settlements, criminal investigations into Wall Street, Republicans threatening to derail the economy over healthcare and new NASA data that shows the US running out of water, what do they spend precious resources and time reporting? I’ll let CNN provide the headline:

‘Bachelor’ contestant Gia Allemand dies after apparent suicide attempt

I feel bad for this woman’s family, however her death in no way merits the attention it is getting. In this reality television obsessed culture, the media just couldn’t keep its pants on.

Meanwhile television news isn’t spending every waking moment on this story, as explained by Salon yesterday:

A newly unsealed lawsuit, which banks settled in 2012 for $95 million, actually offers a different reason, providing a key answer to one of the persistent riddles of the financial crisis and its aftermath. The lawsuit states that banks resorted to fake documents because they could not legally establish true ownership of the loans when trying to foreclose.

Ugh

Dumb parents, unconstitutional ruling

I’m the first to make fun of parents who, for the life of me I don’t know why, decide to give their children the dumbest names. I don’t have to name off a list, everyone knows what I’m talking about.

But mocking and ridicule are a giant leap away from ruling that someone, under penalty of law, must change their baby’s name. Cue the crazy judge from Tennessee who just crossed that line, from the local NBC station:

A Newport mother is appealing a court’s decision after a judge ordered her son’s name be changed from “Messiah.”

. . .

“The word Messiah is a title and it’s a title that has only been earned by one person and that one person is Jesus Christ,” Judge Ballew said.

Martin [the father] responded saying, “I was shocked. I never intended on naming my son Messiah because it means God and I didn’t think a judge could make me change my baby’s name because of her religious beliefs.”

According to Judge Ballew, it is the first time she has ordered a first name change. She said the decision is best for the child, especially while growing up in a county with a large Christian population.

I agree that strange names can cause problems for children as they grow up. But as much as I hate the name, it isn’t our place to force the parents to change it. From a legal stand point this Judge doesn’t have a pulpit to stand on. I don’t know if she missed the day the First Amendment was covered in law school, but she may want to take a refresher course.

It is also worthwhile to know that, according to Slate, 700 children where named Messiah in 2012, and the world didn’t come to an end. I guess when some people speak of the freedom of religion, what they really mean is the freedom to impose their religion on you. I find this also comes with an amendment; they get to make up the rules as they go along.

An apology to myself

I’m taking a moment, while suffering from my second bout of insomnia in four nights, to apologize to myself. I’m doing so because I haven’t written on this blog in some time. Writing, exploring ideas, diving into policy, music, film, history, politics, is what I enjoy most in my down time. Getting away from that left me with a gap in my existence that I didn’t recognize.

So following up on some of the other realizations I’ve made in the last ten days, I’m resolving to spend more time doing what I love, rather than worrying about the things I can’t control.

I’m sorry me, I hope you can forgive.