Thursday, September 01, 2011

One Year at BFE Doesn't Prove Me Wrong

Yesterday afternoon, KOZN (1620 AM) radio's Kevin Kugler referred to naysayers about Sarpy County's boondoggle as being wrong and deserving of an "I told you so!" Well, I was wrong on some aspects of the situation...but I'm not wrong that the Trailer Park was a poor investment of government resources.

What was I wrong about? Well, I didn't think they could build the ballpark, and they did.  In fact, despite some cost overruns, it seems that my criticisms that it was being built too cheaply were overreactions. It's hard to find a negative word about the Trailer Park; everybody seems to think it was well designed and built. It's exactly what the Golden Royal Spike Chasers or whatchamacallits  needed. So in that respect, I was dead wrong.

Traffic problems haven't been nearly as bad as I expected, though parking has been a concern. So I'm kind of wrong there.

But for all of the talk about the "huge crowds" that showed up at the Trailer Park, average attendance through last night was up 14 fans a night compared to last season (averaging 5902 for 2011 vs 5888 for 2010). That's an improvement, right?  Well, maybe. Keep in mind the average new ballpark increases attendance by 25% in that first season...and it's downhill from there. Everybody wants to come out and see the new ballpark. The Trailer Park never even came close to a 25% fact, depending on the final night's attendance, it may not even top .25% (one quarter of one percent)!!

And let's not forget either that Sarpy County hasn't disclosed how they are going to pay the mortgage out at the trailer park.  Rent from the Whatchamacallits is probably going to account for about a third of the mortgage payment; hotel tax revenue (much of which is being redirected from other uses) and other stadium revenues probably will account for another third. But the rest (and the budget hole the redirected hotel taxes created) of the bill is still unexplained.

There's always the hope that the "Pennant Place" development will take off, but nothing has been announced since last winter, and even then, local real estate experts think that's still five to seven years off.

When you consider that the bills in Sarpy County haven't even begun to be paid off and the meager increase in attendance, it's clear that calling me wrong is premature at best.  Let's check back in a few more years...

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