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Arizona's stadium authority: like taking a baseball from a baby

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Sure, Minnesota youth sports organizations, right now you’re counting your $6.7 million that’s coming to you as a part of the Twins’ new stadium. But be warned that what major league sports and new stadia can give, they also can take away. The kids of Arizona are getting a hard lesson in that right about now.

From the Arizona Republic:

The group that operates University of Phoenix Stadium [home of the Arizona Cardinals, not the Internet university, which has no football team, thus making the Cardinals the only team that moved out of a real college stadium into a faux college stadium] has scaled back funding to tourism agencies, the Cactus League and youth sports as revenues drop.

The Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority’s priority, which is to pay off the debt from building the stadium, remains unchanged. It will this year make its $16 million debt payment on the $455 million dome.

But for the first time since the agency’s inception [after voters approved it in 2000], it will not fully fund its other obligations. That means less money to market the region to visitors, to help cover renovation costs at Scottsdale and Tempe spring-training ballparks and to support youth- and amateur-sports projects.

The agency’s biggest revenue source is a tax

on Maricopa County hotel-room and car rentals, which has shrunk as fewer people visit the Valley.

“No one ever contemplated tourism dollars reverting back to 2003 levels,” said Tom Sadler, the authority’s chief executive.

Its budget, approved in June, estimated $35 million in revenue and a $3.4 million deficit if all obligations were covered.

The latest projections peg revenue closer to $31.5 million this fiscal year, and Sadler said the deficit remains about the same because of the cutbacks. …

The big loser is youth sports: The amount placed into grants will shrink from $1.8 million to $150,000.

But youth-sports funding is doled out in grants every two years; the agency has $1.3 million in funding for grants in this cycle, Sadler said.

To shame people into visiting Phoenix, the city will start running Feed-the-Children-type ads in which a somber, bearded man will walk up and down the streets of the city, saying how for just $150 per day, little Johnny can get back on the baseball field. Won’t you help?

Written by rkcookjr

November 30, 2009 at 9:53 pm

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