From Ryan Holeywell at Governing.com on March 21:
Last summer, as the start of a new fiscal year approached, Florida’s Lee County was tasked with closing a massive budget deficit. Located on the southwest coast of Florida, the county was hit hard by the housing bubble, and its unemployment rate was more than 40 percent higher than the national average. Desperate, county leaders considered tough choices like cutting millions from their EMS budget and instituting employee pay cuts and furloughs. They did that, and they took $75 million from their reserve fund.
Yet in the midst of those struggles, the county made one decision that faced little dissent: selling up to $81 million in bonds to fund a new baseball stadium where the Boston Red Sox would play 18 exhibition games per year.
“At the time we’re spending reserve dollars to keep our county government operating, we’re also spending this outrageous money on professional spring training, without asking (the team) to put very much in,” says Brian Bigelow, the lone county commissioner who opposed the deal.
Read the full article here: http://www.governing.com/blogs/view/The-Economics-of-Baseballs-Spring-Training.html
(With thanks to Baseball Think Factory).
Originally published: March 22, 2011. Last Updated: March 22, 2011.