Having fallen victim to the age old "build-us-a-new-stadium-or-we're-relocating scam" courtesy of owner Jeff Loria and commissioner Bud Selig, Miami-Dade county and City of Miami residents will be paying off their $508 million share of the $634 million ballpark for the next 40 years, with interest that brings the total burden to around $2.4 billion.
The A's ownership group headed by Lew Wolff ought to remember these dizzying numbers— 'cause they can be sure that city councils in Fremont, Sacramento, San Jose, or anywhere else they try to pitch a taxpayer-financed stadium are going to be plenty aware of the bait-and-switch pulled off in Miami.
That's not to say that the A's ownership group is anything like Jeffrey Loria, who has really carved out his own place in the pantheon of awful owners—first with the Expos and now with the Marlins. The A's have generally been upfront with their fans and have made the best of their of their situation, with a great deal of credit due Billy Beane.
But with Marlins Park looking like a bad deal before its opening anniversary (I really hope they give a good promo on that one—$100K to the first 5,000 fans sounds about right), how will any city be able to sell luxury public spending like this to citizens trying to recover in a struggling economy?
The pending Jays/Marlins deal is really tangential to the stadium issue, but what it highlights is the fact that new stadiums don't necessarily translate to free-spending ball-clubs and championships. Loria is an extreme example of somebody pulling a boondoggle but he's not the first owner to hold a city hostage to get a new stadium on the public purse, with little benefit to the public.
With the backlash that the franchise is facing though, and the justifiable outrage of the ratepayers who can see the writing on the wall—the new stadium is housing the old Marlins—public officials won't be easily pressured into ill-advised stadium deals in the future.
Loria, with Selig as accomplice, has likely killed the era of the publicly funded stadium. It's bad for the A's, who desperately need a new home, but likely good for the taxpayer.