We mentioned this over the weekend in that post about the misgivings local officials have about helping the Red Sox build their new spring training facility, but James Wagner of the Washington Post has a more in-depth story about the Nationals flirtation with Fort Myers.
The upshot: the Nationals approached
Hammond Lee County officials about moving to City of Palms park — the Red Sox old spring training home — over the summer, but talks haven’t gone anywhere. This passage says why:
… having committed more than $80 million in a bond issue for a new Red Sox stadium and having approved $42.5 million in upgrades to the Minnesota Twins’ facility, Hammond Stadium, the county is limited in what it can offer the Nationals. Despite the financial constraints, Lee County officials remain optimistic they can still entice the Nationals …
There are a lot of ideas in there about how the government can “lure” the Nationals with $1 rent and diverting some local taxes to eventually pay for renovations. It’s a familiar story. Nowhere, however, is there mention of what the Nats might pony up themselves. I guess it’s assumed that a team paying anything for its own facility is crazy talk.
Why the county, which is going broke appeasing the Red Sox and the Twins, should be in the business of “offering” or “enticing” a baseball team owned by an insanely rich person is beyond me. The total renovations required for City of Palms park — which served quite well as the southern home for Red Sox Nation for several years — are about $40-50 million. That’s less than half of what they’re paying Jayson Werth. It’s about one percent of owner Ted Lerner’s net worth. I bet the Nats could swing it if they wanted to.
Professional sports: the only business in which it is assumed on an a priori basis that the government, not the business owner, will build the factory.
The Oakland Athletics ballpark saga has dragged on for years and years and years. They’ve considered San Jose, Fremont and at least three locations in Oakland as potential new ballpark sites. The whole process has lasted almost as long as the Braves and Rangers played in their old parks before building new ones.
In the past several months the Athletics’ “stay in Oakland” plan has gained momentum. At one point the club thought it had an agreement to build a new place near Peralta/Laney College in downtown Oakland. There have been hiccups with that, so two other sites — Howard Terminal, favored by city officials — and the current Oakland Coliseum site have remained in play. There are pros and cons to each of these sites, as we have discussed in the past.
One consideration not mentioned before was mentioned by team president David Kaval yesterday: sea level rise due to climate change. From the San Francisco Chronicle:
Kaval mentioned twice that the Howard Terminal site would have to take into account sea-level rise and transportation concerns — and he said there have been conversations with the city and county and the Joint Powers Authority about developing the Coliseum site.
The Howard Terminal/Jack London Square area of Oakland has been identified as susceptible to dramatically increased flooding as a result of projected sea level rise due to climate change. On the other side of the bay both the San Francisco Giants and Golden State Warriors have had to consider sea level rise in their stadium/arena development plans. Now it’s the Athletics’ turn.
Sports teams are not alone in this. Multiple governmental organizations, utilities and private businesses have already made contingency plans, or are at least discussing contingency plans, to deal with this reality. Indeed, beyond the Bay Area, private businesses, public companies, insurance companies and even the U.S. military are increasingly citing climate change and sea level rise in various reports and disclosures of future risks and challenges. Even the Trump Organization has cited it as a risk . . . for its golf courses.
Fifteen of Major League Baseball’s 30 teams play in coastal areas and another five of them play near the Great Lakes. While some of our politicians don’t seem terribly concerned about it all, people and organizations who will have skin the game 10, 20 and 50 years from now, like the Oakland Athletics, are taking it into account.