A Solution To The Cardinals Stadium Problem
Editorial written by on Tuesday, April 3, 2001
Imagine that you own a business. Now imagine that you have hired a large army of political lobbyists. These lobbyists have greased enough palms to convince the state legislature to fund the creation of a new store for your business. You will retain ownership of this store. You will be able to charge people a large admittance for entering your store. Plus, it will be illegal for any person to report on what happens within your store without the "express written consent" of your company.
Does this sound outrageous? So what makes the St. Louis Cardinals think their proposal for a new taxpayer-funded stadium is any less preposterous?
Let's assume for the sake of argument that Busch Stadium actually needs to be replaced. Let's also assume that the Cardinals are serious about their threat to move across the river. (As if anybody would ever pay money to go see the Sauget/East St. Louis Cardinals)
I propose an elegant plan that not only funds the construction of a new stadium, that not only keeps the Cardinals in St. Louis, but also protects the taxpayers of Missouri from yet another pork project involving corporate welfare.
Let's use public funds to build a new stadium. But the State of Missouri shall retain full ownership of every square inch of it. This means that:
- The team must rent the stadium for home games and practice sessions. Landlords don't rent out their apartments for free, so why should we rent out our stadium for free? Fixtures and furnishings, such as a scoreboard, will cost extra.
- Every Missouri resident will receive free tickets equal to their share of tax money used to build the stadium. Thus, if the stadium costs $370 milion to build, and Missouri has 4.1 million adults, and an average ticket costs $20, then each adult should receive at least four free tickets to cover their part of the deal.
- Missouri will retain the right to name the stadium. I would suggest "Missouri Taxpayer's Stadium" as a reminder of who's boss.
- Since the stadium is owned by Missouri, any information about the activity that transpires within its wall should be public domain. Major League Baseball can take its express written consent and shove it where the sun don't shine.
- The state will reap any and all revenue from advertising and concessions within the stadium. Food and beverage prices will be held low so that no person must face the indignity of paying $3.50 for a cup of warm beer that only costs 10 cents to produce.
Between the rental fees and the income from concessions and advertising, Missouri will be able to quickly pay off the construction debt and start turning a profit. The increased flow of moola will ease Missouri's budget problems and give a shot in the arm to the career of Former State Treasurer Bob Holden.
The Cardinals get a new stadium, and Missouri gets the rest. It's a win-win situation.