It is hard to believe, but in 2011, Camden Yards will play home to the Baltimore Orioles for the 20th season.
Since then, 19 teams have debuted new stadiums (20 if we include the Marlins new park in 2011). That means, in 2011, only 9 baseball parks will be older than Camden Yards. Of those, three are considered “iconic” (Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, Dodger Stadium) and two have gone through major renovations (Kauffman Stadium, Angel Stadium).
Of the remaining teams, three (Rays, A’s, Blue Jays) desperately need new ballparks. And it won’t be long before teams like the Orioles, White Sox and Indians start thinking about upgrading their soon-to-be outdated stadiums.
But how will teams pay for these new stadiums? Or maybe more accurately, how will cities help pay for these baseball playgrounds?
Long gone are the days of passing some little-cared-about tax to raise hundred of millions of dollars. Also gone is the threat of moving to another city. Of the available cities (e.g. Las Vegas, Charlotte, Portland, etc.) they all have their own problems and don’t represent significant upgrades. Besides, not counting the Major League Baseball-owned Montreal Expos, no team has moved since 1972.
Dave Hyde suggests a tax on team profits, maybe 10 per cent, noting that the team could repay the “free money they got.” Of course, the obvious problem with this is that MLB teams are not in a hurry to make their finances known to the public.
A stronger solution would be to offer the cities equity in the teams. If the citizens become part-owner of the team, it is then in the best interest of the city to help increase revenues for the club. That means new stadiums.
With the amount of money teams and athletes make these days, the disconnect is stronger than ever. Give the teams back to the fans, even if just a little bit, and the fans will be more willing to give back to the teams.
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