Facts, history, truth missing in stadium debates

By Steve Schopp

In a newspaper story last year about Portland’s effort to lure major league baseball, there was some interesting points to be found about those cities trying to lure the Expos baseball team. Different positives and negatives were featured in writing about these cities. The city, Charlotte North Carolina, had a negative check with the comment that their newly approved expensive convention center hotel made it difficult for them to muster more votes and dollars for a new major league stadium. The interesting item in the story was that it mentioned that convention center hotels are notorious for losing money. It begs the question, were Charlotte voters ever provided that information prior to their voting to pay for it? Further still, are Portland residents provided this information?

We already have a convention center and its expansion losing money. The Civic Stadium is losing money. PGE Park is losing millions owed to the city. The Rose Garden is in bankruptcy with its primary tenant, (Blazers) losing $100 million a year, and a long list of other fiscally non-sustainable problems. The Rose Garden problems cannot be blamed exclusively on the Blazer controversies and law enforcement run-ins, because attendance is down for music and conference events as well.

The Heartland Institute made this observation about public funding of stadiums, “Research has clearly shown that public-sector stadium investment generally does not lead to economic growth. Stadium spending leads to the creation of low-income jobs; sports are a very small industry in a region; stadiums themselves will not serve as enticements for fans indefinitely; lease terms tend to benefit team owners and cost the public money; additional taxes are often needed to offset the operating costs of the stadiums…”. This type of information has been missing from the public debate over PGE Park, the convention center and more recently the purchase of the Expos.

The public should not be sold into another losing deal. The public should not trust these public officials who time and again fail to personally understand or publicly explain that these deals are proven financial loser.

Steve Schopp

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