Last week, friend of the site Noah Pransky dropped a bomb on Dunedin. Not literally of course, but in regards to the City of Dunedin’s bid to extend the Toronto Blue Jays spring training, Noah might have nuked their efforts.
According to Pransky, Bonn Marketing, the “unofficial” economist of several spring training rebids, is not led by an economist at all, rather a tourism marketing professor. Pransky cites several fuzzy math conclusions and even some emails in which Bonn Marketing chief, Mark Bonn, urged the Blue Jays to beef up their numbers.
I’ve been opposed to the Dunedin extension on the grounds of market demand – I don’t believe there is the potential for the 38% more seats and attendance the team wants to add for Blue Jays Spring Training. I think Dunedin is foolish to use the “if you build it, they will come” philosophy. As well, Dunedin is the smallest town to host Spring Training and Minor League Baseball in America. Their Florida State League attendance has been the worst in the league for years.
As well, any local money that goes to the Blue Jays is lost revenue or public dollars for the Tampa Bay Rays, the unsettled Major League team in the region.
It is another example of local politicians hedging their odds in case the Rays leave Tampa Bay.
There has to be a better use of the land Florida Auto Exchange Stadium sits on. And there has to be a better place for the Blue Jays, where they have more potential for fans and Blue Jays facilities.
Pransky’s report was widely circulated and Bonn Marketing took a public relations hit. I would not be surprised to see Mark Bonn create or partner with another company in the near future, keeping his power but reducing his target to local media.
Public funding for stadiums will never be completely on the up-and-up. The work Pransky does and the work Bonn Marketing tries to make money on will always be a sly game of cat and mouse. But last week, Pransky scored a big win for public transparency.