Sunday, April 3, 2016

Questions about financing a Brave's Spring Training facility and why did the Post feel the need to weigh in so early in the process?

O.K. We know that the Atlanta Braves are interested in coming to Palm Beach County. And we also known that they are interested in the potential of John Prince Park, just outside the boundaries of the City of Lake Worth. The County Commission has the ball right now, pardon the pun. It is their park that would be used as a location, which has value in its own right.

We do not know the ultimate price a stadium would cost and what various facilities would be needed. We also know that the County may be in a bidding war with other counties. Pinellas and Collier counties are mentioned in The Palm Beach Post editorial today.

Intuitively, most reasonable people can see the connection between creating a sports destination adjacent to Lake Worth and the economic benefits that would come from that. Lake Worth would not be the only City or nearby area to benefit. Other central Palm Beach County municipalities would share in the spin-off created by such a facility. However, these benefits would come at a cost and we just don't know what those are yet. So why would the Post feel the need to chime in so early in the process?

The Post cleverly raises the question this way before any of the details are known:
     Bringing the Braves here would be nice. But is this a game worth winning at the expense of blowing the sales tax hike?
     Keep your eye on the ball, commissioners. [emphasis added]
Do the editor's at the paper really need a lesson on the difference between bed tax revenue and a possible rise in the sales tax? Why would they feel the need to combine two separate and complex issues as it relates to Spring Training baseball? Even after reading the editorial a second time it is still inexplicable. The hubris demonstrated in the excerpt above is more than a little questionable, don't you think?

Certainly, we do have to consider traffic and other impacts of such a sports facility in what is currently a public park. John Prince Park is a 726 acre park and is not nearly as heavily utilized as some would have you believe. You can see that for yourself if you go there on almost any weekday and many weekends too. Plus, the park is sometimes used for unsavory purposes as this article reveals. Perhaps an active ballpark with more people coming and going would reduce some of the park's more negative qualities.

The discussion, of course, will have to include how the park will maintain the current recreation and open spaces for the general public. That is a given.

Where the money comes from and how much are key questions that need to be answered. Until then, lets keep an open-mind and see where this leads. There could be a tremendous upside to the Braves coming to Palm Beach County and John Prince Park. We shouldn't close the door before we have a chance to look inside.

Within the editorial are these two lines:
But let’s call time here. Have a little huddle on the mound.
That sage advice would have served the Post editorial board well before publishing that editorial. Why not wait until after the Palm Beach County Commission has brought the matter before the public? Once again, what would motivate the Post to chime in so early on this discussion?

Does the prospect of a Spring Training facility at John Prince Park, along with the public's support for the idea, make them worried for reasons other than just questions about financing?