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Are Cities in a Minor League Baseball Bidding War?

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Lawrence–Dumont Stadium in Wichita, Kan. Photo: Mark Eberle, Fort Hayes State University

By Evan Weiner |

In the event you haven’t noticed, moderately sized American cities have caught Triple A Minor League Baseball fever and have decided to invest in a business that seemingly has minimal economic impact on an area.

The latest city to jump on the bandwagon is Wichita, Kan., that city is ready to invest more than $60 million into a ballpark that will be used around 72 times a year by a minor league team. It does not matter if it is Triple A level or a much lower level baseball, minor league baseball franchises are not economic generators and local governments know that. Worcester, Mass., elected officials think investing millions of dollars into building a miniature Fenway Park and a surrounding village will reinvent the city economically. Worcester may be getting the Boson Red Sox’s Pawtucket Triple A team in 2021 if Massachusetts helps pay for the stadium village project.

Wichita is in Kansas and Kansas has significant financial problems. But Wichita politicians have found money for the ballpark with some of that coming from property taxes from businesses that will, the politicians think, move into the ballpark area. The team Wichita is getting will play in New Orleans for two more years while the stadium is built. Wichita elected officials think the ballpark will spur a city wide renaissance attracting retail businesses along with restaurants. Retail and restaurant jobs are low paying positions.  The hope is that non-baseball fans will venture area and drop some money in the restaurants and retail shops. That would just move money from one area to another.  The Wichita stadium will feature luxury boxes and all the revenue generating gadgets minor league owners want. Meanwhile minor league players continue to make near poverty wages as Major League Baseball owners have no interest giving the players a pay hike.

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

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