Whom to believe on stadium?

The disagreements about the baseball stadium proposal in North Augusta concern two things: land and money.

Regarding land: Despite assurances from those in charge, it’s hard to imagine that any amount of construction imposed on that pristine sliver of land will handle the thousands of cars arriving for each game without destroying the riverfront with extra traffic, noise, lights, crowds and crime. Go see for yourself!

Regarding money: The developers smoothly assure us that the money will flow, but they conveniently leave out a crucial point: Study after study has shown that, yes, money flows, but mostly to the teams and the developers themselves rather than the community. In fact, a published study of all minor-league baseball teams found that Class A teams – such as the Augusta GreenJackets – fail to provide financial benefits to their local economies. Another study found that virtually all sports economists – the scientists who study the financial impact of baseball – agree that baseball stadiums contribute so little to the local economy that local governments would do well to avoid investment.

And another study showed that those who recommend baseball franchises to communities such as ours are usually paid “consultants” rather than unbiased scientists.

I wonder why the developers don’t mention these facts at the public meetings.

The common sense of this is clear: Money flows to the baseball teams and the developers, while the community pays the tab for the stadium’s upkeep. The data is equally clear: An overwhelming amount of published research proves that the financial benefit of a baseball franchise to the community is slim to none.

So the question is: Whom should we believe – common sense and the unbiased scholars who all reached the same conclusions after decades of painstaking research, or developers and others who gain money and power if the project is approved?

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