The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Retractable Roof

There’s a major league baseball team—the Florida Marlins— located just south of where I live. Over the past five years, the average attendance at home games has been about 18,500 fans. Last year their attendance was the lowest in MLB and less than 30 percent of the attendance of the top 5 teams.

The solution? A new half a billion dollar baseball stadium with a retractable roof. Using best case projections (that are laughably unrealistic) and spurred on by the fat cat owner of the Marlins, the political class in Miami-Dade county has decided that if the taxpayers build it, fans will come.

Dave Hyde, a sports writer for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel writes:
Over and over, I watched Miami-Dade's commissioners debate Monday on this obscenely expensive, geographically challenged, contractually leaky, wholly unnecessary new baseball stadium.

It was all a show. The stadium passed by a 9 – 4 vote.

When you frame this new and unnecessary stadium project in the context of the nation’s current economic collapse, the passage by county commissioners and the Miami city council does little to reinforce confidence in politicians at any level—city, county, state or federal.

It appears that regardless of the governmental level, the political class is populated by far too many incompetent or outright corrupt people. The politicians who are honest see it as their duty to do what’s right, rather than what is politically expedient or partisan. But they are often not reelected or are drowned out by the clowns who think that taxpayer money is theirs to spend without control.

A half a billion dollars is a lot of money at the municipal/county level and it buys a lot of supporters. The commissioners who voted in favor of the new Marlins stadium now have an opportunity to award hundreds of millions of dollars in construction contracts, concessions, and the like. Reciprocal political contributions will flow like Niagara Falls.

The taxpayers? Oh, not to worry. They’ll just be saddled with debt for a generation or more. Business as usual in 21st century American politics.