Ballparks > fire departments

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There’s a story in the Wall Street Journal today talking about how municipalities are less eager to fund ballpark projects now than they used to be. Convenient, I guess, in that nearly every major league and AAA baseball team in America has gotten a new park in the last 20 years or so, but whatever.

The counterexample is that spring training complex voters just approved for the Cubs in Mesa, Arizona. Nice quote from the the Mesa City Manager defending the spending priority:

City Manager Christopher Brady said the Cubs bring $130 million annually to Arizona, drawing fans who then spend money on hotels and rental cars.

“If we put money into, say, a fire department, it would be gone,” he said. “This way we leverage the investment.”

No reaction quote from the Mesa Fire Department on that one, surprisingly enough.  But then again, maybe they’re slaves to the quaint notion that a municipality’s primary purpose is to provide basic services like police and fire protection, schools, libraries, utilities and the like to their citizens and don’t understand just how important it is to build a training facility for an Illinois-based corporation worth three quarters of a billion dollars.