Friday, May 13, 2005

Two Ballpark Points

I’m bored. I’ve got nothing better to write about. And the recent hubbub got me curious.

I just weeded through the ballpark legislation DC passed, and there are two important points. One I was pretty sure of, the other not so sure.

First, the one I was sure of. Regarding private financing, the legislation only calls that there are potential alternatives. It doesn’t actually require the city to adopt any of the plans, so long as there are plans that meet the legislation’s cost threshold. This one’s been accomplished.

As to the one I wasn’t sure of, the land acquisition estimate…

The legislation (Sec. 107, if you’re really bored) only requires the estimate to be below that $165 million cap. It doesn’t require the actual land acquisition costs to fall below.

It does create an interesting question of what is a fair estimate though. Gandhi’s estimate used some current sales values, but also some past sales values. The land in the area, due to speculation, has already increased in value. But, that increase is solely because of the stadium -- it’s artificially high. If you were to use the speculated values, the cost might be higher than the cap.

But, if that’s the case, then the Stadium wouldn’t actually be built there, and then the land wouldn’t cost as much. Like that old Public Service ad used to say, “How do you get a job without experience, and how do you get experience without a job?” Either way, it makes my head hurt.

Either way, Catania clearly wants the stadium derailed. That doesn’t invalidate his argument, it just means you’ve got to keep that in mind when you’re listening to or reading his arguments. You need to be aware of his potential biases, just as we’re wary of the tripe that MLB spews. Neither is an impartial party.

As always, the truth -- or at least the closest we can get to knowing what the truth is -- lies somewhere in the middle.

2 Comments:

  • Interesting post, Chris.

    Two points:

    1) Why would the Council pass legislation that would ask for the estimate alone to come in under $165 million, but accept that the real cost might be much higher? Doesn't make sense. Knowing how the Council felt about the stadium deal, it's safe to say that they want both the estimate and the real cost to remain under $165 million.

    2) As for land prices, the simple fact is that the simple speculation has raised the values of the land. That will not change. If the city moves the site, the value of the lands on that site will rise. Moreover, if the Supreme Court decides to limit the use of eminent domain by cities and states, land owners wherever the stadium is to be built will be able to demand even more than they can now, because they'll know that the government will not be able to easily condemn and take their land.

    By Anonymous Martin Austermuhle, at 5/13/2005 11:33 AM  

  • On point 1, yeah we know what they'd have hoped. But, look at the actual legislation like I did. It only asks that the estimate be under the cap, not the actual costs.

    They knew full well that there would be cost overruns. (As there have been with every ballpark ever built)

    2. As far as the Supreme Court, I followed that case a little bit, and every person's opinion I read who watched the case seemed to indicate that the Court was not going to overturn the use of ED.

    Yes, that's just speculation, but it's informed speculation.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 5/13/2005 11:37 AM  

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