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The Whacked Out Economics of Public Spending

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Fans stand above the Philadelphia Phillies bullpen before a spring training baseball game against the Atlanta Braves Wednesday, March 24, 2010 in Kissimmee, Fla. Photo: AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

It is that time of the year, baseball’s spring training schedule starts and this year, the Houston Astros and the Washington Nationals have new facilities and share a new stadium in West Palm Beach, Fla. The new facility is great, just read the Major League Baseball website’s description that starts with fan-friendly amenities which actually means the teams are raising prices for something new while selling the same old stuff.

Those franchises, Houston and Washington, left behind facilities in Kissimmee and Viera, which means that out of town money spent on spring training in Florida has shifted from Kissimmee in central Florida and in Viera on central Florida’s east coast to South Florida. But what happens to facilities that as of 2016 were Major League worthy?

Viera is attempting to fill the void by attracting youth and amateur baseball and softball tournaments. The U.S. Specialty Sports Association is moving to town leaving Kissimmee. Viera is losing the Florida State League’s local franchise to Kissimmee. Viera is hoping the sports association can generate business and fill local hotel rooms. As part of the deal, Brevard County taxpayers are throwing in $10 million for improvements to the Nationals old spring training facility.

Kissimmee will have a minor league baseball team to help fill some of the dates in that town’s ball park. Both Florida and Arizona have histories of building facilities with help from the public that were briefly used and left behind.

In Tucson, a ballpark build in 1998 for the White Sox and Diamondbacks still stands even though the teams are long gone. No one really knows how much spending really takes place for spring training or what the economic impact really is on local communities and states but Florida and Arizona communities keep over spending on complexes that are used and then abandoned by teams.

By Evan Weiner For The Politics Of Sports Business

This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Evan Weiner.

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