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Jim Furtado
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Minor League Baseball Newsbeat

Monday, May 02, 2016

The Braves Play Taxpayers Better Than They Play Baseball

Over the last 15 years, the Braves have extracted nearly half a billion in public funds for four new homes, each bigger and more expensive than the last. The crown jewel, backed by $392 million in public funding, is a $722 million, 41,500-seat stadium for the major league club set to open next year in Cobb County, northwest of Atlanta. Before Cobb, the Braves built three minor league parks, working their way up the ladder from Single A to Triple A. In every case, they switched cities, pitting their new host against the old during negotiations. They showered attention on local officials unaccustomed to dealing with a big-league franchise and, in the end, left most of the cost on the public ledger. Says Joel Maxcy, a sports economist at Drexel University: “If there’s one thing the Braves know how to do, it’s how to get money out of taxpayers.”

The Atlanta Braves own most of their minor league farm system, including, along with a Double-A team, the Triple-A team in Gwinnett County, Ga.; the Single-A team in Rome, Ga.; and lower-level teams in Danville, Va., and Lake Buena Vista, Fla. It’s an unusual arrangement. Major League Baseball teams always manage their players at every level, but they usually leave the day-to-day operations of farm teams to independent owners. The Braves prefer more control. “We can create a seamless thread all the way through our system,” says Mike Plant, the team’s president of development. The teams are all named the Braves and wear near-identical uniforms. Even the “Tomahawk Chop” chant is the same from Atlanta to Rome. “We definitely extend that Braves brand through everything we do,” says Plant.

The Braves are similarly methodical about using other people’s money to build their ballparks. In 2001, for example, while trying to persuade Rome to build a $15 million, 5,105-seat stadium for the Single-A Braves, who then played 150 miles south in Macon, the Braves brought local officials to Turner Field for executive dinners and to watch games from the owner’s box. “It was hands down the highlight of my life,” then-Floyd County Manager Kevin Poe says. That November, Rome voters approved a 1¢ sales tax to pay for the stadium by a 142-vote margin.


Friday, January 22, 2016

PCL president admonishes LVCVA over crumbling Cashman Field | Las Vegas Review-Journal

You would think Vegas would know a suckers bet.

Eventually, the city leaders there would build a new ballpark where the old one had been. Albuquerque got its team back when the new owners in Calgary decided to play where it was warmer, in a new ballpark that had a climate-controlled batting cage and plenty of restrooms for spectators on Fireworks Night.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 22, 2016 at 08:49 AM | 11 comment(s)
  Beats: minor league baseball, stadium financing, stadium renovations

Monday, December 07, 2015

Industry Keeps Eye On Minor League Lawsuit - BaseballAmerica.com

Minor leaguers deserve more money than they are currently getting.

Those interviewed were divided on whether players really needed a raise.

“They don’t have that many responsibilities,” another GM said. “They don’t have a whole lot of expenses. They pretty much live and breathe baseball while they are here. Sometimes you’ve got to make the sacrifice for it to pay off down the road.”

A team owner likened ballplayers to tennis players or musicians trying to reach the top of their profession. He suggested that if they are victorious in their lawsuit, then ballplayers should be charged to train with coaches in the same fashion those other professions do.

“It is a very strange situation,” the owner said. “I understand labor law and this sort of thing and minimum wage. But when a guy is out there practicing baseball, is that his job or is he doing it because he wants to get from Single A to Double-A to the majors? The same thing is true if you think of musicians or ballerinas out there practicing all of the time. No one is compensating them for that. They are doing it to try and improve in what is a very competitive field.”

Others hoped a way could be found to benefit both sides.

“These guys are dreamers. There’s no guarantees they are going to make it, but there has got to be more than 1,200 bucks a month for a low-A guy,” another GM said. “The only thing I go back to is that none of these guys are forced to do it. But at the same time, our franchise does well. It seems like there has got to be some way to find some middle ground so that it doesn’t hurt everybody . . .

“We’re in a different climate. Legally if they should get more, then I get it. But it stinks if it comes off of our dime.”

Added the first GM, who has worked at several levels of the game:

“I’m torn by the whole thing. Some of the stuff they say in the lawsuit about the hours they work isn’t true. They’re just fooling around in the clubhouse a lot of the time. On the other hand, my gosh, the amount of money that is being brought into this game . . . You just have the feeling that we should be doing better for our employees.”

Jim Furtado Posted: December 07, 2015 at 01:23 PM | 39 comment(s)
  Beats: minor league baseball

 

 

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