Quote Originally Posted by jk View Post
sports stadiums anyone?
AAA Red Sox are quite a recent case study. Were bought ought of bankruptcy back in the mid 70s by Ben Mondor--quebeqois industrialist. Old McCoy stadium is the oldest still in the minors, built in 1942. It was all public money. But it was public-owned. Not one of these newfangled public-private partnership deals where the city kicks in the money to buy something for someone else. Anyways, he did a major renovation and expansion to the place in 1999. After they did, it had the highest attendance in the league in the 2000s, often selling out it's ~12k seats. Won all kinds of awards for best-run franchise. Kept things affordable and family friendly and unpretentious. Just a real quirky field in a real quirky stadium with a strangely huge foul territory and folks in the stands with fishing rods. Weird records were set their too. Longest baseball game in history was played there. 33 innings over 2 games. 2 of the 4 no hitters ever pitched in the league were pitched there. They won 4 league titles and 7 division titles. It really is a storied franchise, arguably the most storied outside of the American and National Leagues.

But then Ben died in 2010. And almost immediately, without him, they wanted to ruin it. Take the team out. Build a new stadium just 2 or 3 miles south in the bigger city's downtown (Providence, not Pawtucket). And while they were at it, they made sure to open up competition among all the other 100k+ cities in New England, just to pressure Rhode Island into doing what they want. Keep in mind, there was no reason at all to do this. They had a good location. It sold very, very well. It was profitable for decades without a hitch. It had just been totally renovated and expanded a decade earlier. They didn't want a working class park. That's all their is to it. They wanted luxury boxes. They wanted lawyers and doctors in the stands, not laborers and cashiers. They wanted smaller attendance with wealthier people and fancier accouterments. It's just for class preference. There's literally no other reason to abandon an historic, unique, storied stadium that just got renovated right up the road. I mean, it's a place with baseball in its bones. It'd be the minor league equivalent of tearing down Fenway to move the Bosox from Brookline to downtown Boston near the Aquarium. Why in holy hell would you ever dream of screwing things up like that?

But they wanted to. And it just so happened some new land was freeing up in downtown providence because they re-routed the highway. So they fixed their eyes on it. Wanted state financing plus free land for them to own it...not the old arrangment of the 1940s where the city built it and the city owned it (and still owns it). It's not a bad deal for the team. The city only charges $3,000/mo in rent. For the whole damned thing. But it's a real asset for the city. They can use it in between for high school games and other city functions. They can use it for concerts. Bob Dylan played there like 10-15 years ago. They have other opportunities to make good use of it. But this time, no. The team was going to go. And they were going to pit cities against each other. And they were going to demand state funding. And they were going to demand 100% private ownership rights, even though they wanted taxpayers to put up most of the capital and maybe all of the land. They were not happy with a consistent sellout crowd and income stream in an historic ballpark that people loved. They needed to wreck it all for just a few more bucks just a bit faster.

But they got a bit too greedy maybe. The state governor and state senate agreed to their crazy plan, but the state house balked. So what did they do? Went to the next big city up the blackstone river in the next state over and soaked them for even more. Now the Pawsox will be the Woosox. And in a record-setting deal for the league, the city is giving them $100 million. That's 1/10th of what Virginia is giving Amazon for HQ2. Just for a stadium. And not paid for by Massachusetts. But by Worcester. A post-industrial working class town of 180,000 that's not rolling in cash. And the new stadium will have fewer seats than the old. A bit under 10k capacity. They're not even pretending they want more fans and to sell more seats. They just want to move it up the income scale, get it next to hotels, and hope that businesses buy season tickets and hotel rooms for executives.

Total insanity. But here's the thing. It's plutonomy, right? There's an income divide, not unlike the continental divide. It's going up around the 90th percentile. People tend to start rolling downhill from that point one direction or the other, toward zero or infinity. And they want their customers on the upper-income side of that divide. That's all that's happening here. They're signing a 30 year lease. And I guess they're betting the working class even in greater numbers and more consistent attendance will be increasingly worthless over the time, whilst the upper-income set will be increasingly willing to drop the equivalent of today's $30 for a beer and a hot dog, or gourmet grass-fed artisan sausage, or whatever the hell. And I've already lost, so there's not a lot of good whining about it does. But it is just a shame to see perfectly good, perfectly working things ruined needlessly. Poor Ben is probably rolling over in his grave. There was a man of wealth who knew how to be a steward, to make money and still nurture and grow things. They don't make them like that anymore. Now they just knock the tree down with a bulldozer, squeeze the fruit, get the juice, and salt the earth behind them.