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Strategic Planning

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Strategic Planning
Mike Caywood
05/31/2015
SPT-600

Being a sports fan today can be costly not only when you go to a game with your family but also when you know that part of your tax money is going towards the building of a new ballpark in your area. Within ten minutes of my house in Kansas City, Kansas we have had two stadiums built within the last 12 years, Sporting KC Park (MLS) and Community America Ballpark (minor league baseball). Sporting KC park was built using STAR bonds (only available in Kansas and Nevada) and according to the Kansas Department of Commerce, sales tax revenue (STAR) bonds provide Kansas municipalities the opportunity to issue bonds to finance the development of major commercial, entertainment and tourism areas, and use the sales tax revenue generated by the development to pay off the bonds (Rishe, 2015). Sporting KC had a season ticket base of just under 14,000 for a facility that seats approximately 18,500. That’s roughly 75% of capacity, which is pretty damn good for Major League Soccer. Sporting KC drew an average of 105% of their capacity in 2012 for a 9% increase over their inaugural year at Sporting KC Park (Rishe, 2015).
Community America Ballpark was built with the use of private funds. In 2013 the Unified Government of Wyandotte County purchased the Stadium from Ehlert Development. In doing so they will also use STAR bonds for an $8 million renovation (Babbitt, 2015). More than 265,000 fans attended games at the park in 2013, and the Kansas City T-Bones are said to generate over $5.5 million a year to economically benefit Wyandotte County. More than $650,000 has also been given by The T-Bones in order to improve Wyandotte County parks (Babbitt, 2015). Both stadiums were built in the Village West entertainment district next to the prosperous Legends Outlet Mall and across the street from the Kansas Speedway. You can literally walk to everything when you arrive to the area. It is one of my family’s favorite places to go for entertainment. If you would have seen the area 15 years ago you would have never thought this could have been possible. Wyandotte County has always been one of the less fortunate counties in our state and even in my youth was considered an area you wouldn’t want to go to at night. The transformation of the area and the jobs that came with all of the development is unprecedented for our area. I think the numbers speak for themselves when saying I think that using funding is just fine if you can reap the benefits and provide an area for families to go and be entertained. One other note I would like to add is that I spent from 2006-2012 as Operations Manager for a staffing agency here in this area. My territory was specifically Wyandotte County and Kansas City ,Ks. I can tell you that our numbers took a nice spike over this time period as jobs were created and business were making profits. In 2006 my revenue was around $389,000 and in 2012 I topped out at $1.3 million of revenue. Needless to say I am a big fan of publically funded stadiums.
On the flip side there are many out there that think the use of publically funded stadiums is a waste and potentially harmful to an area even if the teams are successful. Over the last 20 years, 101 new sports facilities have opened in the United States (Gordon, 2015). This is a 90 percent replacement rate and almost all of them have received direct public funding. The normal justification is that with development it will bring in jobs and help the overall local economy. Sounds enticing for the average voter but are taxpayers getting anything in return? Economists have long known stadiums to be poor public investments. Most of the jobs created by stadium-building projects are either temporary, low-paying, or out-of-state contracting jobs, none of which contribute greatly to the local economy. Most fans do not spend additional money as a result of a new stadium; they re-direct money they would have spent elsewhere on movies, dining, bowling, tarot-card reading, or other businesses. All in all, building a stadium is a poor use of a few hundred million dollars (Gordon, 2015). In the world of stadium financing, the few people who stand to gain millions (or billions) from subsidies (owners, developers, contractors, leagues) will invest heavily in lobbyists and campaigning efforts to see that their project is approved, whereas regular voters who only stand to lose $20 per year will invest very little in fighting an issue they may or may not care about. Public choice economics (and common sense) say this is a terrible way to decide how to allocate tax dollars because it kind of goes against the whole democracy thing (Gordon, 2015).
Case in point the Charlotte Knights an AAA affiliate of the Chicago White Sox. Subsidizing the construction of a ballpark with public money misallocates resources and may waste taxpayer money. If the team fails to attract the fan support that they believe will occur the implications of this could be higher ticket prices and parking fees, more crime and traffic congestion, and a general lack of support for the team that could be devastating for the region being redeveloped. Or if a recession, higher unemployment or sluggish growth in economic activity occurs in the local or regional economy, will people in Charlotte decide to reduce their expenditures on professional sports and therefore not attend Knights games at their subsidized ballpark? Besides influencing the team’s gate receipts and concession sales at its home games, this would negatively affect the city’s economic development and perhaps reduce revenues and profits of any businesses adjacent to or near the ballpark (Jozsa,Jr., 2015). What if there is less consumer demand than forecasted for the Knights home games during and after 2014 season, BB&T Corp. may terminate its naming rights contract when it expires in 2031 or, alternatively, negotiate to reduce the (undisclosed) amount paid for these rights. As a result, the baseball franchise’s revenues will decline and limit opportunities to advertise and promote its brand, products and services in the media and to customers and commercial organizations. Thus leading to a risky and perhaps an unprofitable investment for government and the Center City Partners to subsidize construction of the team’s ballpark in Charlotte (Jozsa,Jr., 2015).
I have shown two distinct examples of what happens when stadiums are publicly funded. One I have witnessed in person and again the transformation is unbelievable. The jobs were not just temporary but led to full time employment with nice incomes to provide for their families. The region itself went from a vacated baron wasteland to a vibrant, colorful and safe environment for families to go and be entertained. The local economy became one of the most respected in the region and for whom others wanted to emulate. The other shows of what could happen and what might happen if a stadium is publically funded. They ask are the rewards worth the risk. Should a community ask their constituents to help fund for the rich. I believe that those that have vision and use their resources are in my opinion the real movers and shakers and I believe taking that risk for a mere $20 or $30 dollars is worth a lifetime of family memories and fun.

References

Babbitt, K. (2013). Kansas City T-Bones' CommunityAmerica Ballpark to be purchased publicly. fox4kc.com. Retrieved 31 May 2015, from http://fox4kc.com/2013/11/18/kansas-city-t-bones-communityamerica-ballpark-to-be-purchased-publicly/
Gordon, A. (2015). Psmag.com. Retrieved 31 May 2015, from http://www.psmag.com/business-economics/america-has-a-stadium-problem-62665
Jozsa Jr., F. (2015). Public financing of minor league stadium a risky investment - SportsBusiness Daily | SportsBusiness Journal | SportsBusiness Daily Global. Sportsbusinessdaily.com. Retrieved 31 May 2015, from http://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/Journal/Issues/2012/09/10/Opinion/Frank-Jozsa.aspx?hl=minor%20league%20economic%20impact&sc=0
Rishe, P. (2012). STAR Bonds, Location Make Livestrong Sporting Park a Star Among U.S. Soccer Stadiums. Forbes. Retrieved 31 May 2015, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/prishe/2012/10/29/star-bonds-location-make-livestrong-sporting-park-a-star-among-u-s-soccer-stadiums/

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