Last week, it was announced that Spartanburg, South Carolina would be getting a minor league baseball team. The ballpark is reportedly part of a $250 million dollar project to develop property in the city’s downtown district. According to one city council member, the ballpark will “set off an explosion of development” and bring an “economic boom” to the city.
Just one tiny issue. We know very little about this project outside of it involving a ballpark, other acres of land and a few numbers that are simply guesses. Nobody has said whether or how much public funds would be given or if tax incentives will be used. Projects of this size require a number of city and state officials to review it, vet it and hopefully approve it. None of them have heard a single word about this deal.
In fact, little of this project is known outside how much city leaders love it. The Post and Courier is reporting that Spartanburg has gotten $34 million in state earmarks to use on the ballpark. The Center Square was able to get the State House Speaker to admit to state funding for the project but nothing else. One city leader has admitted that “local hospitality tax dollars” will be used for the ballpark construction. Again, nothing else.
But what about unknown costs associated with the 16-acre mixed-use site in downtown Spartanburg that is supposed to include multifamily housing, office space, and an entertainment district? What are the parking plans? Something that should be at the top of any list that a city is going down when deciding whether to give away millions of taxpayer dollars? Parking plans are unknown right now.
The Center Square did a fantastic story on this recently and noted that it wasn’t that long ago that owners of a minor league team in Gwinnett, Georgia, were given $64 million taxpayer dollars in return for “promised development outside the ballpark”. It was going to be an “economic powerhouse” for the region. Nothing was ever built. This seems to happen quite a bit, doesn’t it?
It was interesting to see that the only group of people who are upset at this project are…..other minor league baseball owners who have ballparks within 30–40 miles of the proposed new one.