Cities See Mixed Returns on Spring Training Investments

While some cities in Florida have shelled out big money to build baseball stadia for professional teams' spring training, many of those teams are moving their spring programs to other cities, raising concerns about the wisdom of those investments.
March 22, 2011, 10am PDT | Nate Berg
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"While spring training was once synonymous with Florida, that's starting to change. Arizona municipalities have become known for offering extremely generous stadium terms to teams that are willing to re-locate there. Since 2003, a half-dozen teams have traded citrus for cactus and moved their spring headquarters west, primarily due to lucrative deals and the heightened geographic concentration of teams, which reduces travel times. Today, baseball's 30 teams are evenly split between the two states.

That shuffling of teams encourages municipalities to compete to land teams. Since stadium leases expire at staggered intervals, there's almost always a battle for at least one team at any time. As a result, teams are able to squeeze out vast sums of public money for their facilities, typically making little or no contribution of their own."

And though some cities in Florida and Arizona are able to recoup their investments on stadium projects, some economists argue that building for a brief spring training season is not a smart move for cities.

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Published on Monday, March 21, 2011 in Governing
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