Well, I must admit I appreciate City Manager Ted Voorhees pursuing a downtown baseball stadium. A project, if it comes to fruition, that could actually unite our community rather than divide it. Unfortunately, he and city staff cannot resist the bureaucratic temptation to
spend taxpayer money needlessly and foolishly.
Agreed, due diligence must be done on a project that could cost as much as $50 million. However, gallivanting off at taxpayers’ expense to Sugarland, Texas, near Houston, to tour a minor league baseball stadium seems a bit excessive, no? Especially when they can tour a half dozen comparable stadiums within a few short hours from Fayetteville. Go figure.
When I inquired about this to two city hall insiders, both replied the same way: They said city staff feel compelled to spend their budgeted travel allowance. Bureaucrats! This scenario becomes even more ridiculous when you consider that the ballpark in Sugarland sits on the southwest side of Houston, Texas, which has a population of a whopping 2.2 million people. Sugarland’s sales tax, by the way, is 8.25 percent with a hotel occupancy tax of around 13 percent. Not to mention that the cost of building their stadium was $37 million in 2011. In 2016, this project would probably come in at $45-$50 million. All this being known, it begs the question: Why travel to Houston?
Yes, a baseball park in downtown Fayetteville does have potential– within reason. We must approach this reasonably and we must eliminate the silliness such as the editorial that was recently in the Fayetteville Observer written by Tim White. This August 16 editorial shows how grossly out of touch we are when it comes to being reasonable about such things. Ignoring our own history seems to be our local pastime. Someone needs to inform the Fayetteville Observer, Tim White, Ted Voorhees and Rochelle Small-Toney that “Build it and they will come” is only a fictional phrase from Kevin Costner’s movie Field of Dreams. Baseball players do not really enter and exit cornfields. Nor do corporations, businesses and fans follow and support multi million-dollar stadiums. Really.
I love baseball, and as much as I would love to see a baseball stadium in downtown Fayetteville, I think we need to slow down and think this one out, in the meantime, let’s support the local sports teams we have. Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.