B y D a v i d D e v i n e
DEAR ED, PAUL AND MIKE:
Season's Greetings! You Pima County Supervisors must really be in the holiday spirit of giving since you're talking about subsidizing spring training again. You three haven't been this together since you hired Manoj Vyas to save us all that money. Oh well, better luck this time.
But before you commit us taxpayers to spending millions of our dollars on a highly risky venture, there are a few things you might want to think about. First, remember Tucson has a Baseball team, the Toros. If you want to improve baseball facilities in town, do it for them first. Because a lot more local people attend their games than go to see the spring show. After all, free tickets for a Monday night game are much easier to handle for a low-wage town than the high prices the big leaguers charge.
Also, this talk about city taxpayers not participating in the financial arrangements is a lot of tobacco juice. Since when aren't city taxpayers also county taxpayers? Plus, you're the ones who get the car rental tax. So don't ding the city folks twice. It only seems right that you guys ought to pick up the tab, if there's going to be one.
Please remember you're dealing with modern-day robber barons in the owners, and they care nothing about Tucson. They're simply big-business men who believe in taking from the taxpayers and giving to themselves.
This talk of the Rockies and the Rattlers, or whatever those snakes from up the road are called, going to Las Vegas for spring training shouldn't be taken too seriously. But the nerve of that town for even suggesting it. First they hate our Saint Lute. Then they try to steal our water. And now this. Why, it's almost enough for you, Ed Moore, to call on the sheriff to go up there and do something to those big bad mobsters.
But look at the disadvantages Las Vegas has. All visiting teams would have to fly in, adding greatly to their expenses. The other owners wouldn't like that at all. To hold costs down, maybe the two teams could play a lot with themselves, but after a while that wouldn't be very interesting.
If you've ever been to a spring training game, you know another disadvantage Las Vegas has. After the first few innings, the heavy hitters leave the game, and town. They're on their way back to Phoenix by the top of the sixth. How they would do that from Las Vegas, unless they use their own private jets, which they might, is beyond me.
Keep in mind also the White Sox probably won't come here. Chances are they'll end up in Phoenix in a stadium with the Brewers. Does a new facility make sense then?
This talk that taxes won't have to be raised to pay for a new stadium is unreal. The taxpayers are the only ones at risk in this deal. If anything happens to prevent spring training, we'll end up holding the tab. Why not make the teams ante up a major portion of the price of the stadium? Then let Tucson's high-rollers and the tourism industry, which will be the major beneficiaries of the stadium, pay the rest?
But the teams won't pay their fair share, you say. They'll go elsewhere and you'll be blamed for losing spring training for Tucson, you say. Then why not take the approach the mayor of Houston took when the professional football team there said they were leaving. His response was that his city had higher priorities, like police protection and fire safety, than giving millions of tax dollars to spoiled millionaires so they could make more millions.
If you really want to help the community, how about doing something about our record- high murder rate? Or addressing our transportation problems? Or raising the average wage in this town?
So let's get real. Drive a hard bargain, and if you can get the teams and the fat cats to pay for the stadium, fine. But if the taxpayers have to be the ones shelling out and taking all the risk, forget it.
If we lose spring training, it won't be the end of the world. Los Angeles is surviving without the Raiders and the Rams, and Houston will probably make it without the Oilers and the Astros.
So guys--especially you Ed, whom I haven't seen this excited about an "economic development" issue since that awful singing group Up Yours People up and left town--don't roll over and give the owners everything they want. Because most of us would rather save the money than go to a spring training game we can't afford.
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