April 3, 2006
After yesterday's front page story on PaeTec Park, former City of Rochester employee Mitchell Rowe felt that he wanted to speak out on what he sees as a great project. The following is Mitchell's view on the project in his own words:
Speaking out on PaeTec Park by Mitchell Rowe
We can argue all day about whether or not state funds are best spent on athletic facilities like PaeTec Park. Given the challenges we face throughout the state, the argument against is certainly easier to make than the argument for - and I'm the first one to admit that.
That said, as long as New York State is providing resources for these kinds of community assets, why shouldn't we get ours?
The Democrat and Chronicle and other critics of this project have been quick to point out its perceived shortcomings - namely the level of private financing on the part of the Rochester Rhinos, the limited impact it will have on revitalizing the area surrounding the stadium, and the contradicting "worst-best" case scenarios, that either the team will make money unfairly or that the taxpayers will be on the hook should the team fail.
Much less focus has been placed on the positive aspects of this project:
Economic Impact: This state of the art facility replaces almost 20 acres of abandoned brownfield land on the northern edge of our Center City which has sat idle for decades. The stadium will be going on the tax rolls and the International Drum Corps Competition alone, planned for Labor Day weekend, will generate over $12 million in local spending at area hotels, restaurants and shops. Without PaeTec Park, Rochester would never have secured this event. In addition, several other abandoned properties adjacent to the stadium have been purchased since construction began and they too will return to productive use and occupancy.
Local Taxpayer Protection: Through a series of legal agreements, one of which is a long term ground lease that provides for the city retaining ownership of the land the stadium is built on, everything possible has been done to protect local taxpayers from getting saddled with any operational costs associated with stadium operations. We can't cry about the team possibly making a profit at the same time we insist they cover any shortfalls in paying the bills. Besides, the relatively small debt the stadium will face coming out of the gate greatly improves the likelihood of financial stability.
A Community Asset: PaeTec Park will be a wonderful compliment to Frontier Field and our other public facilities. The Rhinos have been clear from day one that this facility will be made available to the community. It is really so much more than soccer stadium.
The Rhinos, and Frank DuRoss in particular, have been through the equivalent of a very physical match over this project. Yet through it all they have played by the rules. They've had had plenty of chances to pack it in and go home. Instead they chose to go after every loose ball. And when its all said and done, I believe they'll have a deep enough bench that they'll never need to ask the taxpayers to join the roster.
Maybe I'm too close to the action to be objective.....or then again, maybe the front row seat has allowed me the view that sees the upside that the critics can't or won't. History will be the ultimate judge of this deal. In the mean time, let the games begin!
The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author's, and not necessarily those of the Rochester Rhinos or SoccerSam.com. Feel free to send any comments or complaints to firstname.lastname@example.org. James promises to read (but not to respond) to all of them.