Now lets get one thing straight, I'm not against building a sport stadium downtown, I'm against using public funds to build it. But to often we don't think like a Wall Street investor when putting down money into our infrastructure. All to often, we don't treat public works project like an investment to the tax payer but a cost to buy something pretty. We don't weigh the investment with possible return on investment as well as the maintenance cost that goes along with such an investment. As a result, we see the spending of tax dollars, and the need to constantly look for additional funds to keep what we already have up and running.
The promise I constantly hear is that it will improve the local economy. Well we already have the answer to that and it's a big fat no. We heard this promise with the Alamodome, we heard this promise with the AT&T center, and yet the area around these stadiums are pretty much as dead as they were before they were built. What's spurring the development on the Eastside isn't the Alamodome or AT&T Center, but $3.7 million investment put into restoring a bridge over the railroad tracks for people and bicycles, not cars.
After my tweet, I got a rebuttal from Jeff Long, Assistant GM San Antonio Missions Baseball (AA, Texas League, Padres). (Image 67.2) He tweeted the image of the response to an empty stadium comment. Well go to the Alamodome or the AT&T Center nearly everyday of the week and you'll see an empty stadium. Also if the Spurs are getting way more people to go to their games, then why is the area around the AT&T Center empty?
San Antonio isn't the only city with this problem for Cincinnati was promised a big return with their tax payer subsidized stadium for the Bengals and the Reds. In the end, it didn't spur development, but created a $14 million dollar shortfall. When I had the chance to visited Cincinnati, I found that the action wasn't around Great American Stadium, but around Washington Park and Finlay Market. The same with the Major League Sport Stadiums in downtown Minneapolis. I've been to Minneapolis and there's hardly anything happening around those stadiums except a transfer from the Blue Line to the Green Line, no retail, no bars or restaurants. Again the action in downtown Minneapolis isn't around either Stadium but on Nicollet Mall. And finally, lets point out American Airlines Center where the Dallas Mavericks play. Located at the far west of West-End, going to the Light Rail Station (Victory Station) and you'll see the same thing, no retail, no bars or restaurants. Again most if not all are located nearer to the West-End Light Rail Station. So please tell me again how is a new stadium going to improve the economy downtown?
St Louis has been going through this with the owners of the Rams for several years now and they have still voted no.
And before I get a rebuttal that sports teams bring in people and help promote the local city in tourism and growth, evidence fails to show that major sport teams help at promoting tourism or growth. We only need to look 80 miles north and see that Austin has been getting way more growth than Dallas, or San Antonio and last I checked, Austin doesn't have a major sports team unless you count the Longhorns, a college team. One simply needs to look at the motto for Austin which is "Keep Austin Weird" to find out why so many tech companies have been moving to the State Capital instead of San Antonio.
So what's the opportunity that will be lost if the SA Missions decide to move downtown? The opportunity to for transit oriented development and to have a stadium with light rail access. Mayor Ron Nirenberg campaign promises was to bring light rail to San Antonio and the current Mission Stadium is located at the corner of US-90 and Callahan Rd. If one just looks at VIA's long range plan, is that they plan to put any light rail on Old Hwy 90 West. With Plenty of room to build a bigger baseball field and to turn the land around it into development that the owners of the Missions can earn a bigger return on investment all while supporting the transit services provided by VIA.
Currently VIA is updating their Long Range Plan and you can help by taking their latest survey before August 5, 2017.
And with the threat of the Missions leaving San Antonio for a more friendlier city, my response is a firmly "bye bye." If you don't value your fans, then chances are you'll not fare better in another city. These days, sport teams would rather give the finger to their home towns than value their fans/customers. It is a sign of the times by those who own the means of production who would rather send their businesses overseas or have those same businesses go down in flames in a promise of a big payoff to the CEO. These short term gains will eventually leave all, owners and customers pennyless with nothing to show the next generation except a big fat bankruptcy and a empty stadium.
It will be sad to see such an opportunity lost for San Antonio, VIA, and the SA Missions. I can only hope that people who are going to be making these decisions will look pass fame and glory and the big folly and see the opportunity right in front of them. I understand that they probably won't see it, but that's just one of the reasons why I write this blog.
67.1 My meme tweet warning against building a sport stadium.
67.2 The Picture that Jeff Long tweeted showing the attendance for local sport teams here in Bexar County.
67.3 The previous VIA's Long Range Plan Map. Can be seen at these blogs , "Mr Nirenberg, Ever think of Walking?" and "Streetcar IV: The Future of Rail in SA".
67.4 A Google Satellite Picture of Nelson W. Wolff Municipal Stadium, where the SA Missions currently play.