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Camden Yards did not pay for itself, no matter what the papers say

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We’ve talked for years about how bad a deal publicly-funded stadiums are for taxpayers most of the time.

They are often sold as necessary in order to keep sports teams in town, but in most cases the teams weren’t going anyplace. They are promised to be engines of economic growth for cities, but they hardly ever are. Indeed, according to study after study, they rarely, if ever, even pay for themselves. And that’s before you figure what the tax dollars put toward stadiums might have done if put toward other uses. Or what the economy might’ve looked like if the taxes were not leveled in the first place.

Yet, the myth that publicly-funded stadiums are both necessary and economically beneficial continues. Why? In large part because local media outlets lie about the costs and benefits of these places.

The indispensable Neil deMause of the Field of Schemes blog finds a wonderful example of this in Baltimore today. There the Baltimore Sun writes a story about the local stadium authority which funded Camden Yards. The story’s headline touts the notion that the Orioles’ payments to the authority have exceeded the costs paid by the public to build and operate the stadium.

Except, as deMause makes clear it’s not true. Not at all. Not by any rational economic measure. And the story itself even admits that, more or less, further down the page.

Not that most people will read further down the page. For the most part, people scan headlines, believe them and move on. Most readers of the Baltimore Sun who noticed that article likely put down the paper this morning believing, hey, Camden Yards was a good deal. It paid for itself! Except it didn’t. As most ballparks don’t. Despite the best efforts of team owners, politicians and, in many cases, the local media’s efforts to fool you into believing otherwise.

Camden Yards is a great ballpark. And it cannot be questioned that it has served as the anchor for the Inner Harbor and its revitalization for pushing 25 years now. But there is no evidence that some other sort of public investment — or private investment — in the Harbor would not have accomplished the same goal. And there is no logical way that what has happened with the ballpark can be spun as some miracle of private enterprise or cost-free public investment. One can characterize it as a public works project, if one chooses. Like, say, an interstate highway or something.

The only difference: no one ever tries to make the case that an interstate highway pays for itself. Probably because interstate highways aren’t built in such a way that they enrich people like Peter Angelos and the Orioles to the amazing degree Camden Yards has. A fact which, it seems, the Baltimore Sun wants to obscure.

Tim Tebow homered in his first at-bat with Single-A St. Lucie

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Mets minor league outfielder and former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow was recently promoted from Single-A Columbia to advanced Single-A St. Lucie. Critics suggested that, because Tebow wasn’t exactly lighting up competition with Columbia, the promotion was just about marketing.

Tebow, to his credit, has gotten off to a good start with St. Lucie. In his first at-bat with his new team, he hit a two-run home run, turning a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead. The home run came on a 3-1 count against starter Junior Fernandez of the Palm Beach Cardinals. Fernandez is the Cardinals’ No. 10 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline.

With Columbia, Tebow was hitting a paltry .220/.311/.336 with three home runs and 23 RBI in 244 plate appearances.

Cardinals option Aledmys Diaz to Triple-A

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The Cardinals announced on Wednesday that shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been optioned to Triple-A Memphis and infielder Alex Mejia’s contract has been purchased from Memphis.

Diaz, 26, impressed last season when he posted an .879 OPS and finished fifth in National League Rookie of the Year balloting. This year has been rough on Diaz, as he’s batting .260/.293/.396 with seven home runs and 20 RBI in 288 plate appearances. He’s the second major Cardinals player to get sent down to the minors along with Randal Grichuk.

Diaz was surprised by the demotion. Via MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch:

Mejia, 26, opened the season with Double-A Springfield but was promoted to Triple-A two weeks ago. With Springfield, he hit .251/.305/.366 in 251 PA. In 42 PA with Memphis, he hit .263/.333/.289.