At least three owners are looking for public financing for stadium projects.
Major League Baseball has had a long history of tone-deaf commissioners whether it was Ford Frick, Spike Eckert, Bowie Kuhn, Fay Vincent or Bud Selig. Rob Manfred is following in the tradition of his predecessors when speaking about Oakland Athletics’ fans losing their team in the “it’s too bad” sense. The baseball media has applauded Manfred for speeding up the game on the field with various rules changes but the same media does not point out that Manfred led the way to drop 42 minor league franchises. There was an attempt to cut minor leaguers’ salaries and there is the continuing threat to minor league cities that cannot or will not upgrade stadium that your minor league licenses will be taken away from you if you don’t give us what we want, a new or renovated stadium and we will find a different city that will cave into our demands. Manfred has also been defending the needs of his billionaire owners to get public funding for stadium upgrades or a new stadium entirely. At the moment, owners in Phoenix, Kansas City and Milwaukee are looking to get public funding for new stadiums or money to fix up existing stadiums.
Most economists say sports venues should not get public funding. But Manfred told Time Magazine, “I have read obviously peoples’ arguments about public financing. There’s an equal number of scholars on the opposite side of that issue. Whatever the merits of that debate in the context of sports, generally, baseball produces a kind of growth because of the number of games involved. I lived in Washington for 15 years before I came to work for baseball. The thriving area around Nationals Park. Nobody went there when I lived there. I defy people to tell me another form of governmental action or renewal effort that produces that kind of change.” Manfred apparently never read about Franklin Roosevelt’s depression-era measures.
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