As a Pittsburgh Pirates season ticket holder and subscriber to its email notices, I received a message from the club titled, “Bucs Unveil Major Renovations at McKechnie Field" (the Bradenton, Florida spring training site). We learn of new fan amenities and additional seating, and are told by Pirates President Frank Coonelly, that, “We're always trying to make sure everyone has a great experience at the ballpark. We can now provide fans with additional options and opportunities to have a good time while catching a game and enjoying the outstanding weather we have in Bradenton." On its face, this is good news.
The only thing we are not told, it appears, is the cost of the goodies and how they were financed. The answer is troubling.
The tariff for the renovations/enhancements is $10 million, but the Pirates are footing only $3 million of the bill, the rest of it to come from a Tourist Development Tax assessed on all lodgings of less than six months per year, including hotels, thus the middle class visitor to the Bradenton/Sarasota area will subsidize the cost of tickets, relieving the wealthy team owners of their obligation.
In an era in which government services considered vital are being cut out of necessity, funding can always be found not for a cause which is “extremely compelling”, but to further feather the nests of the rich.
Obviously, I enjoy baseball as much as anyone, but no one should be forced to subsidize the cost of my or anyone else’s tickets to a game!