Bacon Bits: Bicycles and Baseball Stadiums

bacon_bitsThe Easy Out. Writing in Henrico Monthly John Gerner, a Richmond-based leisure industry consultant, takes Richmond City Hall’s assumption that building a new baseball stadium requires public funding. Ballparks are often built with little or no public funding, he writes:

Greensboro’s privately financed ballpark that was built to accommodate a AA minor league baseball team, just like the Richmond Flying Squirrels. There are other ballparks currently being planned elsewhere in Virginia, but only Richmond’s would be publicly funded. Often, the development costs are lower when stadiums are privately financed. The developer takes the risks. If it doesn’t work, the private developer takes the hit financially. If it does work, the developer keeps the cost savings.

A privately financed ballpark in Richmond would likely return its location back to the Boulevard, where the region wants it. For the long-term viability of baseball in Richmond, it needs regional support. Most of the fans come from outside the city, primarily from Chesterfield and Henrico. Political leaders in the suburbs know this. If the location were shifted back to the Boulevard, there would likely be another opportunity to forge a regional effort there through shared incentives for this privately financed ballpark.

Huh? Life-Cycle Costs? Meanwhile, in his WTVR blog, Paul Goldman points out a flaw in City Hall’s proposed financing for the proposed Shockoe Bottom location of the stadium. The city’s bond financing will stretch 30 years. That makes sense, if you believe the city’s assertion that the stadium will have a useful life of 35 years. Just one problem, Goldman points out: No stadium has a useful life of 35 years.

The Diamond opened in 1985. Twenty-nine years later, it’s supposedly obsolete. Writes Goldman:

“After 20 years, technology advances, changing fan demands, local business needs, and more makes a Stadium obsolete. This is why we have seen all those new stadiums around the country in the last 20 years!

Within the 30-year lease signed by the Squirrels, the “new” stadium is going to be in need of hugely expensive renovations unless Mayor Jones’ secret plan is to build a new one back on the Boulevard!

Won’t it be fun 20 years from now if the Richmond Flying Squirrels proclaim the “new” Shockoe stadium to be obsolete and asks the city to make millions of dollars in renovations…. or else. Just one problem — Richmond still will have 10 years to run on its bonds for the old ballpark!

You’re Busting my Bikes! Writing on his blog, “Mapping the Commonwealth,” Luke Juday is all fired up by the large fines and penalties his Charlottesville friends are paying for traffic infractions. He offers four reasons why the system is a bad one:

1. The cost of a ticket is disproportionate to the cost of owning and riding a bicycle.

2. Bicycles are not 2-ton hunks of metal that go 70 m.p.h. and kill thousands of people a year. It is often difficult or impossible for bicyclists to follow the rules safely.

4. Motorists are rarely held responsible for collisions with bicycles, making it awfully hypocritical to charge them as if they are equals on the road.

I’m all in favor of making our streets “complete streets” shared by cars, pedestrians and bicycles. We need to shift the “rules of the road” in city streets back in favor of bikes and pedestrians. But in fairness, automobiles do not normally travel 70 m.p.h. in 25 m.p.h. speed zones. And many bicyclists often do behave recklessly (not Luke’s friends, of course, but other cyclists). I suspect we’re facing years of trench warfare between drivers and cyclists before we reach a new equilibrium.

— JAB

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3 responses to “Bacon Bits: Bicycles and Baseball Stadiums

  1. It’s interesting that you’re willing to turn a massacre into trench warfare, as if both parties involved are on an equal plane. Simply put, motorists have superior weaponry and apparently the blessings of the legal system on their side.

    I suspect we’re going to face years of this status quo as cyclists continue to see their tax dollars go toward subsidizing drivers whose state representatives feel no pressure to pay the cyclists back for their kindness by giving them any legal footing. This is, what, the third year in a row simple dooring legislation was smacked down?

    I sincerely doubt many cyclists behave recklessly. They know the game and they know how risky their choosen method of transportation is. They may behave illegally, but those aren’t necessarily the same thing.

  2. The stadium issue is like a bad cold that just won’t go away. The simple solution is to rebuild at the Diamond or maybe out in the’ burbs. No sense putting tons of public money in something that is only going to be used from April until September and by only an AA minor league team no less. No way any stadium is going to last 35 years unless it is Yankee Stadium or Fenway — something with tons of memories, history and gravitas.

    • I don’t know the details in the proposals, if in fact there are any. Will parking decks and/or lots be constructed and owned by the city in the Bottom that could collect revenue throughout the year? A hockey or basketball arena can be used for multipurpose events during the off season, not so much an outdoor baseball field.

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