in Houston, Texas
El Paso considers making hotel tax highest in state to pay for new baseball stadium
Monday, Jul 16, 2012, 02:12PM CST
By Mark Lisheron
field

Thanks to the courage of El Paso politicians, voters on Nov. 2 will get to decide to stick at least part of a $50 million bill for a downtown baseball stadium with the city’s hotel industry.

The proposed stadium will be home to a Triple A minor league baseball team the city doesn’t have and will not get unless the park is built, the El Paso Times reports. El Paso is currently making do with the Double A Diablos, just now sitting in last place in the league’s South Division.

Maybe the city’s hotel managers, concierges and maids should get together this week and have a showing of Field of Dreams to get pumped up, rather than grousing about why their industry should be singled out to pay for the enjoyment of baseball fans.

Should a majority of voters approve - and why not, most of those people spend few nights in their own city’s hotels - a 2 percent increase in the hotel occupancy tax will leave El Paso with a 17.5 percent hotel tax rate, the highest in the state.

Surely, $1.40 more per night isn’t too much to pay to say you stayed in a Triple A town. At least the local investors, who are decidedly not interested in investing in a ballpark, think so.

A ballpark is good for everybody in El Paso, the investors say, a carnival pitch repeated endlessly over the past 30 years in wanna-be Zeniths all over the country. Which is probably how that Field of Dreams quote got changed to, “If we build it, they will come.”

The quote, “If we build it, he will come,” is closer to the truth. For three decades, one sports economist after another has demolished the myth that a baseball, football, lacrosse or lawn bowling stadium is a net benefit to a local economy.

An oft-quoted 2000 study by the libertarian Cato Institute found no economic benefit in any of the 37 metropolitan areas reviewed. In several places, the impact was negative.

“If you want to inject money into the local economy,” University of Chicago economist Allen Sanderson once said, “it would be better to drop it from a helicopter than invest it in a new ballpark.”

However apt, we at Texas Watchdog take no responsibility for the use of the previous quote if it results in a helicopter being added to the El Paso hotel industry’s tax burden.

***
Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or mark@texaswatchdog.org or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

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Photo from 'Field of Dreams,' the 1989 movie staring Kevin Costner.

Comments
Michael Austin
Tuesday, 07/17/2012 - 06:39PM

I would appreciate it if you didn't say El Paso... Its our incompetent so called leaders who are throwing this crap on our face, you see our politicians work for rich scumbags who tell them what to do!

Mark McCoy
Tuesday, 07/17/2012 - 11:55PM

The Diablos are not even a Double A baseball club. They are in the American Association, and independent minor league not even associated with any major league club. This plan to "build it, and they will come" si the dumbest idea the city council has ever come up with. In addition, they want to tear down the current city hall to build the new stadium on that lot, then spend millions more to build another city hall building. Stupidity run amok.

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