Sunday, May 22, 2011

Ballpark brass tacks: Chatter Class blogger notes who will absorb financial blows of construction

The news media is not bothering to examine Mayor Karl Dean's line item for a new Downtown ballpark in his capital budget, despite the facts that:

  1. the Nashville City Paper christened a "grassroots" movement behind a new ballpark
  2. the Nashville Civic Design Center, a regular partner with Metro in planning capital projects, hosted a forum for stadium design "proposals"
  3. Worth some schools, parks, & libraries?
  4. the Mayor's Office has issued a Request for Proposals for a new stadium site that includes studies that constitute the planning process

For now only bloggers are honing in on the $55 million proposal in the Mayor's 2011-12 capital budget, given that the process is clearly moving along this year unlike it has in others. Nashville Chatter Class blogger Richard Lawson lays out the possibilities for how the bills would get paid (note the risk to schools, parks, or libraries):

The proposed funding source is of particular note: general obligation bonds. If the source stays that way, that could open up the issue to a public referendum. Council members have already said the city needs to cool its heels for a while on big projects since the new convention center now is under construction. Because of debt ratios and avoiding a possible downgrade in debt rating, observers said those bonds likely would have to come at the expense of debt for other projects, such as schools, parks or libraries.

Of course, there is the possibility that the ballpark, if approved and sought, is paid for through a mix of funding sources, including tax-increment financing and private funds from the owners of the Nashville Sounds. The owners, however, aren’t enthused with the Sulphur Dell site the mayor seems to favor. They prefer a location south of Broadway.

If this thing follows the same PR script that sold convention center construction, we will not be hearing very much about the costs or the risks involved, and neighborhood impact questions will be steamrolled. It could end up a perfect storm in the North End if public infrastructure like schools, parks, and libraries join community character and democratic process as casualties to a new Sulphur Dell ballpark project.

1 comment:

  1. An interesting history of pro baseball at Sulphur Dell can be found at:

    It's romantic, but is pro sports really any business of our government?