Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill last week raising the amount of state sales-tax money available to help Florida cities build spring training facilities from $500,000 per year per team to $666,000. And while the stated goal is to keep MLB teams from moving their spring facilities to Arizona, some Florida localities have noticed that it could have an unforeseen side effect:
Dunedin Chamber of Commerce President Lynn Wargo said civic leaders are concerned the state funding has allowed other Florida communities to make overtures to the Toronto Blue Jays, as the team’s 15-year stadium lease is due to expire at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium in 2017…
Similar concerns have been expressed in Melbourne and Kissimmee, where moves by teams have been seen as more inevitable.
Brevard County Commission Chairman Andy Anderson has said the law will create a “free-for-all.”
Actually, things have pretty much always been a free-for-all, with teams constantly jumping cities for spring training. And there’s no sign the previous round of state funding worked to prevent moves: As the Cardinal Nation Blog noted recently, Florida has handed out $43 million in spring-training funds since 2001 to ten teams, and three of those have already relocated, two of them to Arizona. But as that blog notes, “it seems like those development dollars have not always provided the desired benefit, yet officials perhaps feel they have no choice but to spend more in trying.” What’s that definition of insanity again?