RICHMOND, Va. – Get ready for another Shockoe Stadium sticker shock.
If you read the fine print in the Shockoe Stadium Resolution passed 6-3 by Richmond City Council, the Mayor’s Shockoe Stadium will ultimately cost HUGELY MORE than YOU are being told!
Did they actually read the resolution? Who do YOU think will pay?
One hundred million dollars EXTRA is a fair life-cycle projection based on how the mayor and the pro-Shockoe stadium posse propose to finance everything at top dollar.
But use $50 million if you want to assume the city pays up front.
Either way, it’s MILLIONS MORE taken away from schools, law enforcement, neighborhood improvements and other vital city services.
Why did the mayor know no one on council would catch it?
As Abraham Lincoln often did, let me use a story to illustrate the situation.
Years ago, a governor assigned me the job of reviewing a lease private developers wanted the state to sign in exchange for building the state a giant office building.
“Paul,” the governor said, “make sure I can’t be accused of helping my friends after my term is up.”
I decided to use the lease as an excuse to make a date with this very beautiful woman who kept refusing to go out with me. She ran a hot shot finance company and had a PHd. from Princeton.
I confess, I might have hinted that maybe she and her company might be able to get part of the action. Give me break okay? And no, it didn’t work. But she did agree to review the lease.
She made me look like a genius by pointing out several things.
For example, the developer and contractors had saved themselves millions over the lease’s lifetime by how they defined their obligation to clean blinds, windows, floors, etc. They cleverly defined net space and regular cleaning cycles in a way that I had missed.
HOW DOES THIS RELATE TO THE SHOCKOE STADIUM SHOCKER?
Here is the fine print in the Resolution, which seems harmless enough:
“The design of the stadium would contemplate a useful life of not less than 35 years.”
Except. no stadium has a useful life of 35 years.
For example, The Diamond opened in 1985. By 2004, the same power brokers and developers pushing the Shockoe stadium today claimed The Diamond to already be obsolete!
Mayor Jones said the same “obsolete” thing today.
The Diamond is the oldest stadium in Class AA except for the one park designated an historic stadium and being preserved to 1950’s style.
After 20 years, technology advances, changing fan demands, local business needs, and more makes a Stadium obsolete. This is why we have seen all those new stadiums around the country in the last 20 years!
Within the 30-year lease signed by the Squirrels, the “new” stadium is going to be in need of hugely expensive renovations unless Mayor Jones’ secret plan is to build a new one back on the Boulevard!
Who pays for all these expensive guaranteed renovations?
All revenue, lease payments, and taxes allegedly being generated go to pay FOR THE BONDS ALREADY ISSUED TO BUILD THE ORIGINAL JONES SHOCKOE STADIUM. They won’t be paid off for 30 years.
Any extra JONES PROMISES WILL GO TO NON-STADIUM NEEDS.
So, who pays when YOU find out that the “35-year useful life” means something different than you think it means?
The Durham Stadium is going through expensive renovations right now long before the 35-year time period!
Projecting 20 years out, and given the speed of change these days, $100 MILLION when all is considered – actual fix-up expenses, interest payments, et. al – is a fair projection given the expensive bond financing approach the Mayor wants to use [in order to bypass the public's right to a referendum].
Who pays? YOU DO.
But YOU don’t have any directly say in the matter right now.
Paul Goldman is in no way affiliated with WTVR. His comments are his own, and do not reflect the views of WTVR or any related entity. Neither WTVR nor any of its employees or agents participated in any way with the preparation of Mr. Goldman’s comments.