Sunday, March 30, 2014

How much does baseball’s Spring Training help Florida’s economy? |

The Palm Beach Post comes out swinging against Spring baseball, but fails to get a base hit in this hit piece. They compare tourism growth rates of metropolitan and smaller areas over the past five years and declare that areas without Spring training stadiums teams do better than areas with teams. They might have identified a statistical correlation, but they fail to prove a cause and effect relationship. The editorial points out that today's Florida has diversified its economy and it tourism offering beyond Spring baseball, which might be the case.

However, as it applies to Lake Worth, we have that "great potential" everyone talks about but we are having trouble putting together the building blocks to become a destination again. Has the beach renovation improved tourist traffic through our city? It may help surrounding hotels that aren't in Lake Worth, but since we have no reputable hotel in the city, other than small bed and breakfasts, it stretches reality that we are really experiencing the economic benefit that was touted for the beach project. I'll have to check with owner of the Ixora and the Silver Lions motels to see if their occupancy rates have improved since the opening of the beach project.

But back to baseball. I grew up in Michigan and was obliged to be a Tiger fan. The Detroit Tigers have always played their Spring ball in Lakeland. It is quite a tradition and there are people that make the trek to Lakeland every year to escape a Michigan winter and enjoy watching the boys of summer play ball. An addition of a two team stadium within our economic watershed would layer another reason, on top of other reasons, to visit the Lake Worth area. It would likely be a catalyst for the development of other hotels that would exponentially grow our tourist economy as the city would be capturing money that is now spent elsewhere in terms of lodging, entertainment and meals. It surely wouldn't hurt.

Now, I am not sold on John Prince Park as being the ideal location, but there are other options, like the A G Holley site, that would bolster the economic offerings of the area. And, for me, it really depends on the design of the stadium area and how it might fit on the PBCC campus, north of 6th Avenue South. There are people here who don't want to talk about any possibility and just listen to themselves talk. That sort of energy keeps Lake Worth at the bottom of the heap in south Florida's economy.

Click title for link. Interesting to read, but not a scientific economic analysis to be sure.