Friday, February 28, 2014

Conflicted About Recent Request for $12M in State Funding for the Uht

 "City of Erie Requests $12M in State Funding for the Uht" Yes, this is the type of headline appearing this week in the local paper that makes you do the proverbial double-take. As in "WHAT????" $12 million for improvements to an already beautiful ballpark. And, then when you realize it's state money, oh well, that's not so bad. Of course, when you consider again that you are a taxpayer in this state...Okay so maybe those weren't your reactions, but they certainly were mine.

And then there is this bit from the story in the paper, "The planned improvements at the ballpark, which is managed by the Convention Center Authority, include new enclosures; expanded concessions; a team store; elevated decks and the expansion of corridors at the stadium; an exterior marquee; a larger children's area; and new lighting and walkways. 'Uht Park needs all of these improvements,' said Roger Richards, a Convention Center Authority board member who heads its Strategic Planning Committee."

Alright, I don't know about you, but I'm not sure any of that stuff is really "needed." I mean I was at the park at least a half dozen times last year and I never remember thinking, "Wow, I wish there were more concessions (maybe more variety) or a better exterior marquee."

Those were my initial thoughts at least. Digging a little deeper, apparently Erie Insurance is building or has built a five-level parking garage somewhere in the area, at a cost of $11.2 million, which the city has submitted as the majority of the matching funds required to get the funding from the state. The Convention Center Authority has pledged to put up the other $800,000. So, basically, for the a total of $800,000, the Convention Center Authority, with the backing from the city, is hoping to get $12.8 million in improvement money for Uht Part from the PA State government (as well as use of the parking garage I'm assuming, so maybe we throw another $11.2 million on top of that). I guess that is a good deal for us, although why the taxpayers of PA are funding improvements at a ballpark that only serves Erie (as well as the teams, primarily the Seawolves, that play there) is beyond me. A lot of the conflicts associated with municipal funding of stadiums utilized by privately owned teams are addressed in Gregg Easterbrook's wonderful book about football - The King of Sports. I can't recommend this book more if you are fan, like I am, of all things football, but sometimes find yourself questioning, "why?"

Anyhow, I guess I hope we get the money because if we don't some other equally, or even more, nefarious project somewhere else in the state likely will, but seriously....ah well, I guess I should just shut up and enjoy the Uht!

1 comment:

Mike said...

Since the taxpayers are funding it, the name should be changed to "Taxpayers of Pennsylvania Erie Municipal Ballpark."

Never happen. Hahahahaha.