Great Moments in Publicly Financed Sports Complexes

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The Milwaukee Brewers spring training facility is in Maryvale, a less-than-fashionable part of Phoenix, Arizona. It’s not terribly old — built in 1998 — but that’s old by spring training standards, especially in Arizona. The park itself is kind of neat in my view. Easy to navigate, has some good food and has some good sight lines. It’s not trying to be old-timey or grander than it is. It’s a straightforward and pleasant place to watch a game. That’s all a baseball fan really needs, right?

Baseball teams, however, want so much more in their spring training facilities these days. They want development opportunities nearby — hotels and restaurants and amenities — and the ability to extract as much cash from visiting fans as possible. A straightforward ballpark in Maryvale doesn’t really do that, so the Brewers are looking for something new.

Enter the Phoenix suburb of Gilbert, which would like to lure the Brewers to a new facility there. The Brewers are willing to put up only $20 million of the $90 million cost, however. Plus they’re eying an additional $70 million investment for an adjacent development with those hotels and restaurants and retail and stuff. Who pays for the $70 million is an open question, of course.

At the moment the financing of it all is up in the air, but the great Field of Schemes noticed something fun in a recent story about it.

Gilbert commissioned some consultants to see what kind of economic benefit the facility would create for the city. The results were not quite what they expected, however, revealing that the publicly-invested dollars would not result in a worthwhile return. So, that’s that then, right? If your experts say your use of tax dollars would be a bad deal, you don’t do the deal?

Hahaha, of course not. You just get different experts!

Kathy Tilque, president and CEO of the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce, said the Applied Economics study was fairly limited in its scope and did not take into account the indirect economic benefits of a potential stadium.

The chamber is working with a different economic consulting firm to provide a broader economic analysis. That report should be completed soon and will be turned over to town officials for review, Tilque said.

“It would be a great thing not only for the East Valley but for Gilbert. We just need to make sure the numbers work,” she said.

There is always absurdity involved when it comes to public officials justifying their giveaways to big business and moneyed interests. It’s just usually not so obvious.

Not that this place won’t get built with tax dollars. No amount of absurdity ever seems to stop that.

Phillies’ Bryce Harper to miss start of season after elbow surgery

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PHILADELPHIA – Phillies slugger Bryce Harper will miss the start of the 2023 season after he had reconstructive right elbow surgery.

The operation was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles.

Harper is expected to return to Philadelphia’s lineup as the designated hitter by the All-Star break. He could be back in right field by the end of the season, according to the team.

The 30-year-old Harper suffered a small ulnar collateral ligament tear in his elbow in April. He last played right field at Miami on April 16. He had a platelet-rich plasma injection in May and shifted to designated hitter.

Harper met Nov. 14 with ElAttrache, who determined the tear did not heal on its own, necessitating surgery.

Even with the elbow injury, Harper led the Phillies to their first World Series since 2009, where they lost in six games to Houston. He hit .349 with six homers and 13 RBIs in 17 postseason games.

In late June, Harper suffered a broken thumb when he was hit by a pitch and was sidelined for two months. The two-time NL MVP still hit .286 with 18 homers and 65 RBIs for the season.

Harper left Washington and signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies in 2019. A seven-time All-Star, Harper has 285 career home runs.

With Harper out, the Phillies could use Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber at designated hitter. J.T. Realmuto also could serve as the DH when he needs a break from his catching duties.