Arizona Politicians are Big Cubs Fans

June 8, 2010

In Mesa, Arizona, some politicians are frantically searching for ways to raise nearly a hundred million dollars to bribe the Cubs baseball team to keep practicing in the city (from Tax Analysts, subs. req.):

City officials in Mesa, Arizona, have put forward a plan that they hope will keep the Chicago Cubs’ spring training in their city.

The proposal, announced on June 3, includes an increase in lodging taxes, although most of the financing will come from sources other than taxes. The City Council would have to put the lodging tax on the November ballot for approval by voters, who would be asked to increase the city’s 3 percent bed tax to 5 percent.

The Cubs contract with Mesa ends mid May and it has been suggested the team might go elsewhere if the city does not pony up $84 million to build them a new facility.

…Mesa officials pointed to an economic study that showed the Cubs bring $138 million annually and 1,600 jobs to Arizona.

“The economic activity and jobs that are created by spring training are simply too important to leave to chance,” said Mesa Mayor Scott Smith (R). “By stepping up to the plate at this time, the city of Mesa is reaffirming its commitment to the Cactus League, the Chicago Cubs spring training, and all that those mean to this city and its residents.”

I wish this state/sport corporatism surprised me anymore, but it’s just too common. On the job argument for a new Cubs stadium; those jobs may be only temporary—probably offering employment while the Clubs play in spring. And even then they could just be transplanted from elsewhere in the state and not lead to an overall increase in employment. But an even stronger argument against this baseball jobs program: It’s not Mesa’s role to employ hot dog vendors. I don’t know if getting $138 million in economic activity from a $84 million investment is good or not. But I am positive the money would be more productively spent if left in resident’s (or tourist’s) pockets.

More on Arizona here.

More on tourism taxes here.

More on job creation here.


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