Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff has announced that he’ll pitch a stadium-finance plan next week to lure the Florida Marlins to San Antonio. Wolff estimates that a baseball stadium would cost $300 million to build – which sounds crazy-low to me – and that he’d propose a similar public/private split as was used to build the AT&T Center for the Spurs. Reports the San Antonio Express-News:
The AT&T Center opened in 2002 at a cost of $189 million. Voters in 1999 approved increases in the hotel-occupancy and car-rental taxes to finance the county’s $146.5 million share.
The Spurs provided the rest of the funding, including $41 million from the arena’s naming rights.
If you’re good at subtraction, you’ll have noticed that aside from naming-rights money – which, though usually counted as a “private” contribution, could just as easily be considered public funds since it’s the rights to a public building – the Spurs kicked in all of $1.5 million for their $189 million home.
Wolff went on to say that “although construction of a baseball stadium is more expensive, we are looking at doing something similar percentage-wise.” That would put the public’s cost for a Marlins stadium at $232.5 million, and that’s assuming San Antonio could really get a stadium built for the rock-bottom price of $300 million, which no city has managed to do since Pittsburgh’s PNC Park in 2001. Wolff says he hopes to put a bond measure on the November ballot, with a new stadium open by the year 2010, which would either mean a long lame-duckhood for the Marlins in Florida, or a whole lot of time squeezed into a minor-league ballpark with an oddly familiar name.
San Antonio Mayor Phil Hardberger said he’s open to the idea so long it’s the county, not the city, paying for it, though he’s open to paying for road improvements, which would further add to the public’s bill. Added Hardberger: “Our doormat has been out for a year or so now, and we are going to welcome the first ones through the door, and it could be the Marlins.” That would certainly be appropriate.