Friday, November 15, 2013

A Tale of Two Stadiums: Richmond vs. Salem

Proposed stadium in Richmond would have 6,200 permanent seats, 1,000 temps.

Municipal stadium financing continues as a source of considerable bemusement for me. Cities that can’t fix their aging sewer lines and pot-holed streets are throwing up multi-million dollar stadiums, and the cities involved aren’t just big ones.

Case in point: Richmond, which is looking to construct a 6,200 fixed-seat (plus 1,000 portable seats) baseball stadium in Socko Bottom. The stadium will cost $48 million and is expected to last 35 years, according to the Times-Dispatch.

The Richmond Economic Development Authority wants to rent the stadium to the professional Flying Squirrels for $1.7 million a year over 30 years beginning in 2016 and is looking at selling naming rights for $600,000 a year, defraying the Squirrels' costs.

The total development plan for the area "includes a slavery memorial, a hotel, a grocery store, 750 apartments and a parking deck," according to the T-D and one suspects the city is looking for quite an economic boost. 

Salem Memorial Stadium at dusk. The view is unparallelled.
Still, this is a small baseball stadium, basically the same size as Salem Memorial Stadium, which seats 6,300 people and was built in 1995 at a cost of $10.1 million. We've had inflation since '95, but I don't think it's 450 percent. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the 1995 dollar buys $1.54 worth of stuff now. By that reckoning--all else being equal--Salem's stadium today would cost $15.5 million and change.

The Richmond's baseball stadium (regardless of its name) will house seats that cost $7,742 each. Salem's seats cost $1,603 each ($2,468 in 2013 dollars). 

Richmond plays in the AA Eastern League, Salem's Red Sox play a step down in the Carolina League (which they won last year), but have an equal stadium and if you take the view into consideration, I think you'll consider Salem's park the better bargain--by far.
 (Richmond stadium drawing: Times-Dispatch. Salem Stadium is my photo.)

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