April 27, 2006
Today's Washington Post reports that average attendance at Nationals' home baseball games this year has been almost 5,000 below last year's levels. In two of the games in the awful series against the Cincinnati Reds, fewer than 20,000 fans showed up, and that's including "phantom fans." As I noted in my summary of the Nationals' inaugural season last October 4, "the smallest crowd was 23,332 on April 26 against the Phillies; in only three other games was attendance below 25,000."
The Nationals were not the only team to get swept this week. The same dubious honor also befell the Braves, the Padres, and the Pirates. The formerly high-flying Orioles will try to avoid being swept in Toronto this evening. On a brighter note, the Royals finally pulled out of a nose dive, winning three of their last four games.
The Baker Bowl page has been revised with a revised diagram that conforms to the new standard. Hey, it was easy, so I moved it to the head of the line. Corrections to Yankee Stadium (the diagram, that is) are still pending.
I saw this bit of news in yesterday's Washington Post, but since David Pinto mentioned it, I figured I should too: The Fitch, Standard & Poor's and Moody's agencies each rated the D.C. baseball stadium project as "low investment-grade" (BBB), on the grounds that it depends mainly on a business tax, which is a highly variable revenue stream. That means it will require a higher yield to float the bonds, which means it will cost more to service the debt, which means the total cost of the project will go up. D.C. officials say they will make up for this and get a AAA bond rating by purchasing insurance, which sounds like a classic "smoke and mirrors" scam to me.
Speaking of stadium scams, I checked out the Field of Schemes site and learned that it's been quite a busy day in the ballpark universe. The New York city council approved funding plans for both the Yankees' and the Mets' future stadiums. In both cases, the city will absorb infrastructure improvement costs, which might end up being a subsidy of $800 million altogether, and the franchises will pay for most if not all of the stadiums themselves. See Newsday. Also, the Minnesota House of Representatives approved a $522 million funding bill for a new Twins stadium. Now it's up to the state Senate. The Twins would pay $130 million of the construction costs and about $10 million a year in rent in a 30-year lease. According to twincities.com, Gov. Tim Pawlenty said, "We're not going to lose the Minnesota Twins on my watch."