Sunday, September 19, 2010

Ramapo Doesn't Need a Professional Baseball Team

Rockland County, located just north of New York City, is growing in population, but still maintains a rural vibe throughout much of the county. New subdivisions have sprouted up around the county, but there are unbroken stands of trees and woodlands. It is within one such stand of woods that work has begun to bring a Canadian league baseball team to the town of Ramapo, which would be located near Exit 12 on the Palisades Parkway.

View Larger Map

The Can Am league isn't exactly successful, and it has six teams spread out over the Northeast, with a team currently playing at Montclair State University at Yogi Berra Stadium. The Ramapo town supervisor thinks that a stadium and team are what the town needs, and wanted to make its voters pay for it.

Does this make sense financially for the town and county? Not in the slightest:
The team will pay $175,000 a year in rent. It would take more than a century for Ramapo to get back the construction costs at that rate. The team threw a couple of bones to Ramapo. The municipality will get a dollar for each ticket sold (not including those seats in the stadium's 20 luxury boxes – the town will get some money from those seats and some money from the sale of the stadium's naming rights. What are the odds that a Ramapo Stadium can get any money for naming rights when the New York Giants/Jets Meadowlands Stadium, the Dallas Cowboys Stadium and the Golden State Warriors facility are still unnamed?)

The team will give Ramapo two dollars from each car parked in the stadium's lot for a game. The town will also get 10 percent of the concessions whether it is food, beverage or merchandise sold at the stadium. The team will keep signage rights in the building. Based on Can-Am League attendance figures, the Town of Ramapo will get somewhere between $3,000 and $4,000 a game if the town and team is lucky.

Revenues will come in at $500,000 and that is a big maybe from games in real world projections not Town of Ramapo hired economist projections.

Ramapo taxpayers better understand that this stadium will be a loss leader no matter what both sides say. Ramapo officials think the team will bring in $900,000 in stadium related revenues. The bad news, the revenues figure is grossly overstated, the good news for Ramapo is that at this point they are not being asked to pay the team's expenses like New Orleans and Indianapolis and Glendale, Arizona residents are doing for pro sports teams. The bad news is that Ramapo will have to find money somewhere to pay from the annual $1.3 million stadium debt.
Voters figured this out and they voted down a plan for bonding the stadium. Despite that vote, which would have ordinarily killed the project, construction is still moving forward as the league is trying to find private backing to build the stadium.

Can-Am teams haven't exactly been sterling risks financially. Several have folded up, and this venture isn't exactly coming into a market that is begging for a professional sports team. Existing minor league teams in the region are struggling to make ends meet, and even minor league teams like the Staten Island Yankees and Brooklyn Cyclones have to work to bring in the fans (and they're the minor league affiliates of the Yankees and Mets).

Does it make sense environmentally? The local roads can't handle the influx of traffic, and it would mean that emissions and pollution in the vicinity of the ballpark would be higher than the surrounding area without any upside.

Can the existing infrastructure handle the traffic to the facility and would it have been a better idea to site the baseball team where athletic facilities were already present?

Rockland County Community College would have been a better location to site the ballpark given the way that the local roads can handle the traffic and the facilities would be used by those attending the college in addition to the team.

But more to the point, at a time when the local communities are dealing with education cuts and budget crises, spending millions to lure a team of dubious distinction to the town isn't a good idea.

In fact, is sounds an awful lot like the Simpsons Monorail:

No comments: