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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Style's Weekly Baseball Bash(ing) Updated***

Just flipped to the back page of this week's Style and not unexpectedly found Pie in the Sky, the latest Style screed against baseball in Shockoe Bottom. I'll take the time to read it later to see if there is anything original in it. The illustration is clever, a jar of change, a dollar bill and a worn out baseball. I've nothing against Charles Diradour, I've registered and contributed on his website and am familiar with his views. It's not his opinion that I find irritating, but Style's no holds barred campaign against the stadium. I have to give them credit, when they weigh in on something, the jump in with both feet*.




How has Style done this? Let me count the ways, backwards.


  1. The current Back Page.
  2. Watered Down, Amy Biegelsen's sarcastic piece on Toad's Place and the failure of the Canal Walk.**
  3. Don Harrison's bi monthly essay on the spiritual superiority of the "independent" arts community in his ongoing attempt to Save Richmond from the Ukrops family.
  4. Let's see, there was the Umpires New Clothes cover piece nicely done with the nekkid ump behind a chest protector.
  5. There has been the odd assortment of Street Talk blurbs I don't feel like researching.
  6. I just found one more, CenterStage Counting Down, Still Without Director, same theme.
  7. And oh, to be fair there was a letter to the editor, I think and one Back Page piece before the onslaught began. On the whole though there has been a lot of ink spilled on the con side of this subject. I see it as one part community service and one part marketing to the too hip to care crowd.



Time for some objectivity. Contrary to some opinions there are two sides to this argument, maybe three and the jury is still out. There's a real case to be made for this investment in downtown and the future character of this city. It's a case I'll try to make, again, but not now. Now I just feel like complaining.




I hope this doesn't affect my submission for next week's Back Page, in which case apologies are due all around, including Don.





* Mixed metaphor alert.


** In this week's issue Amy reports the National may reopen Toad's.




***Just a few more thoughts on this subject. There's no question I had been unhappy with Style's coverage of this issue already. Today's Back Page piece just seemed like piling on. One thing I don't dispute is their right to take this position. It's part of what makes Style, well Style. It's edgy and aggressive when it wants to be. It's what makes it a fun read and I have enjoyed it when they have taken stands I agree with, like the ludicrous administration and personality of our former Mayor. I enjoyed each and every jab. In this case I am heavily invested (emotionally, not financially) in the prospects of a downtown stadium, not just recently, but going years back to the Jameson proposal. I've seen the rise and prospective fall of this concept three times and it seems this time we are closer to reality than at any time in the past. I respect the right for anybody to disagree with me. I don't pretend to be fair. I am a proponent because I think this will benefit Richmond in a way few other things can. I'm not going to explain my position now, leave it to say I am a believer, not with blind faith, but at a gut level and I'm going to advocate my position till it's either hopeless or I am convinced otherwise.

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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Paul,

I love baseball, and I would love baseball in the bottom - I think it's a lot better place than the BLVD. The problem is, there is just no way to make the numbers work for this project, done this way, right now.

First of all, no one is buying TIF bonds right now. The existing ones are selling for 70 cents on the dollar or less at yields to maturity of 12-15%+. And even if they could sell the bonds at 6 or 7%, they would not be able to generate the sales and tax receipts needed to pay the bonds off.

So, this could work in an honest fashion under 2 scenarios:
1. Private enterprise pays for the whole thing with no municipal involvement whatsoever; or

2. Richmond, with or without the other localities, decides to pay for the thing with bonds that it backs explicitly.

The structure of the plan right now with the TIF bonds is simply to obscure the true cost and risk of the project. It will give most of the upside to private enterprise and most of the downside to the public.

Paul H said...

Rats, I just sent a 300 word fairly cohesive reply to blog heaven. I'll have another crack at it later. Meanwhiles, Thanks for your comments. I largely agree with them.

I think there are more options than the two you suggest including a different financing arrangement and the involvement of the wider community. I think the value of a Shockoe Bottom stadium would stand on it's own meritsl. The idea is to broaden the financial burden explain the benifits, financial and otherwise to the community. This I will do when I have time to do it adquately.

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