Thursday, February 2, 2012

Wilmington Signs Up for Baseball Debt

Despite every indicator that it's a bad idea, the Wilmington City Council has shown that they will belligerently ignore economic reality and move forward with plans to raise taxes on the people of Wilmington to buy a baseball stadium for outside investors to profit from.

In typical ego-stroking form, Mayor Saffo gave the annual State of the City speech this past week, and referenced his plans to go forward with pursuing the baseball stadium in downtown Wilmington.

The agreement, Saffo said, would likely include the city buying property and building a stadium that could cost between $35 and $40 million. Mandalay would operate the stadium.
"It might be a tax increase to pay for it," Saffo said.
Within hours of this statement, the Star News released the new figures on area unemployment.
The Wilmington area's jobless rate jumped to 10.6 percent in December from 9.8 percent in December 2010, according to figures released Wednesday by the N.C. Commerce Department's Labor and Economic Analysis Division.
However, the stadium, although it will require more money being forcefully taken out of the struggling local economy, will provide the much-needed economic relief that we all so desperately need... right?
Independent analyses of the economic and employment impacts of sports stadiums have consistently found that there is no statistically significant economic benefit to building a stadium. An analysis by Robert Baade of Lake Forest College studied thirty cities over thirty years and found that twenty-seven experienced no significant impact from new stadiums, while only three cities experienced a negative economic impact.
But jobs will be created, according to Saffo and friends.
A common argument heard from stadium proponents is that the construction of a new sports stadium or arena will generate thousands of new jobs for the local community. Robert Baade found that "sports tend to produce low-skilled, low-paid employment such as: food and souvenir vendors, security personnel, hotel and restaurant employees."(14) If a city encourages a movement toward this kind of employment by subsidizing sports, the city will find its economic development lagging behind development in the rest of the region. In other words, jobs created by stadium and arena construction and/or operation do not, on their own, generate significant tax revenues for a city. Taxes generated by the operation of a factory or similar industry would likely be greater than that of a stadium or arena, and therefore are more valuable to a city from a revenue standpoint.

Often one will hear Mayor Saffo and other proponents talking of the "wonder" it will be to hear the sound of wooden bats cracking on the river. However, the only cracking sound we will hear, if this ill-conceived operation goes forward, is the sound of the local economy completely falling apart.

Often times, taxes must be raised to accommodate the funding for additional police officers or firemen, or other critical needs in the community that must be funded with public dollars. Even those issues are met with some resistance from the community, when attrition seems like the better and more feasible scenario. However, this issue is that of a private stadium, that an outside conglomerate will operate and profit from, and can only do it if our taxes are raised to pay for it? This is absolutely ludicrous, and really demonstrates just how out of touch Saffo and the rest of the city council really is.

When the downtown convention center was being forced on us, we were given the same platitudes and speeches about economic viability and job creation. Saffo would kindly like you to now forget about that, as it has been demonstrated that the convention center will now operate in the red indefinitely. The Wilmington Watcher has proven that your tax dollars pay for the convention center in addition to ROT funds; even though city leaders continually deny this is the case.

The issue of not only using, but RAISING taxes in this economy for the purposes of a few developers and investors getting richer off of the backs of taxpayers, is not a conservative vs. liberal issue in any way. This is an issue of an overreaching, arrogant government against the people is supposedly serves. Property taxes are already high due to the reckless and excessive spending by city government on unneeded and wasteful projects. This would add over $40 million to that tab.

It's time to finally say enough is enough. Please Like our Facebook page here, and show your objection to this idiocy. Also, make sure you sign the petition against it that will be presented to the city:

More info on the stadium and why it's a bad idea here:

1 comment:

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