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College Station's ballpark boondoggle

13,475 Views | 111 Replies | Last: 4 hrs ago by ukbb2003
Brian Alg
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TL;DR [Cliffs Notes]: College Station is fixing to waste $10 million dollars on 4 adult/high school sized baseball fields. They did a little analysis to determine if this is worth doing 5 years ago. The people who did that analysis no longer work for the city, current staff don't know how that work was done. They haven't done anything since then. But looking at the numbers from 2017 the project is going to raise a negligible amount in tax revenue and tournament fees. Capital costs alone will amount to around one thousand per field per day of community use over the next 20 years. Even if you think the city should spend millions on parks. This is a very inefficient way to benefit a handful of local club baseball teams.



This is regarding Phase 1 of the proposed ballfield that some College Station city council folks and city staff are pushing. This showed up on my radar after the council had a special session to vote for the issuance of $78 million in certificates of obligation (like bonds, but taxpayers don't get a vote). $10 million of that is earmarked for this Phase 1 (the first 4 fields) of a proposed baseball park out on Rock Prairie east of Hwy 6.

https://www.cstx.gov/news/what_s_new/notice_of_intention_to_issue_c_os
https://blog.cstx.gov/2022/05/18/live-blog-wednesdays-city-council-special-meeting-may-18/
https://blog.cstx.gov/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/2-CO-Issuance-Notice-of-Intent.pdf

Phase 2 (fields 5-8) has been discussed a little more as a potential $18 million part of the bond package that will go to voters in November. With those bonds, the city has not done much beyond high-level descriptions of what the projects would be.

https://www.cstx.gov/common/pages/DisplayFile.aspx?itemId=18564328

They had a 23-person citizens advisory committee. But I have confirmed with city staff that they weren't given any additional information (e.g., more details regarding costs, benefits, etc.) beyond what is available on the website.

https://www.cstx.gov/our_community/2022_bond_election

I received a response to an Open Records Request related to the proposed park. The City Managers' Office has nothing responsive to the following requests for records between January 1, 2018 and June 14, 2022 (when I sent the request). But they did attach this PowerPoint from August 10, 2017 that had already given me.

"Cost and/or benefit analysis presented to the city council related to Phase 1, Phase 2, any other portion, or the entirety of the proposed Texas Independence Ballpark project (or that project known by another name). Benefits analyzed could include economic benefits or community benefits such as recreational use by citizens or any other quality of life benefits."

"Cost and/or benefit analysis not presented to the city council related to Phase 1, Phase 2, any other portion, or the entirety of the proposed Texas Independence Ballpark project (or that project known by another name). Benefits analyzed could include economic benefits or community benefits such as recreational use by citizens or any other quality of life benefits."

I understand that the intention of moving forward with Phase 1 of the proposed ballpark is to generate tax revenue and provide quality of life improvements to the community. From the 5 year old analysis, the most recent done by city staff, it appears the tax revenue this is expected to generate once the new events are running after 3 years is ($6.3 mil from current events + $0.5 mil from new events) * 1.5% sales rate = around $102k per year. Compare this to the O&M costs listed in the 2017 presentation of $269k or the O&M costs listed for the 4 fields from Phase 2 in the 2022 Bond factsheet of $495k. Even if those figures are reliable (city staff indicated that due to staff turnover, nobody has the work that went into them), they seem to indicate that direct revenue from use fees and indirect incremental tax revenues might almost cover O&M costs at best.

Assuming those combined revenues can offset the O&M costs, that would make this a very inefficient way to improve the quality of life for College Station residents. Below is a back of the envelope calculation nobody at the city has bothered to do using simplifying assumptions for inflation, borrowing costs, etc. and only considering the general fund expenditures and revenues (there is also $6.8 mil to be spent on Phase 1 from HOT funds):

($10 mil construction costs + $5 mil resurfacing after 10 years) / (4 fields * 20 years * 5 weekdays of use [weekends would be for visitors' tournaments, not community use] * 40 weeks per year) = $937.50 per day per field from the general fund over the next 20 years.

I got the $10 million from the Certificates of Obligation presentation. The $5 mil resurfacing is guesstimate after seeing that the cost of resurfacing seems to be about half of the initial costs. The 10/20 years are from the PowerPoint where they indicate that it would be resurfaced after 10 years.

I understand that many consider spending millions on parks to be justified if it is shown to generate enough offsetting tax revenue and/or have an adequate return-on-investment with respect to quality of life considerations. I am more of a protection of the natural rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness kind of guy. But I can appreciate that someone might be a good-faith consequentialist. To those folks: College Station staff and Council have not made any attempt to justify this $10 million they are fixing to spend. The last time anyone looked at this in any way was 5 years ago. Analysis from the work they did then appears to show that this is a massive waste of money.

This is one concrete example of the wasteful spending that they do. Remember it when they tell tales about their inability to lower tax rates to offset the massive increases in housing valuation in a few months.
Brian Alg

Brazos Coalition for Responsible Government
Broncos
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Can you give us a cliff notes version?
Brian Alg
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Broncos said:

Can you give us a cliff notes version?
I forgot where I was. I went ahead and added a translation to the top of the original post.
Brian Alg

Brazos Coalition for Responsible Government
maroon barchetta
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TAMU1990
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AG
FYI, there is a fantastic ballpark in Franklin that holds tournaments all summer and fall. At a minimum, the CS fields could partner with Premier Baseball to hold larger tourneys, in addition to any tourneys that can be held by the city. That doesn't include tournaments that can happen during the HS baseball season. There would be increased hotel and restaurant usage during the slow summer months as well.

It's a quality of life issue for enough voters - people communicated to the counsel that they wanted to see new baseball fields in town. I don't think they are doing this on their own volition.
JP76
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Bryan data from 2 fields


1.3 million in 11 weeks

https://www.rcisportsmanagement.com/travisfields-boosts-local-economy

The difference in the Bryan gig is I think DBAT paid to build them for some kind of tax reduction agreement


So ~ 3 million economic impact annually per field based on limited data. Time will tell the bigger picture but if you've ever been down to Houston, millions upon millions are spent playing travel ball so the demand for these type of parks are extremely high.
doubledog
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What do you expect? Brought to us by the same people who gave us Taj Mahal I, II and III...
FlyRod
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The Taj Mahal is a giant tomb. I don't think we have one of those here.

Baseball is great. Glad to see this in motion.
Chris98
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AG
These summer tourneys are huge money. If they team up with Perfect Game, V Tool, Texas Premier they'll be fine. Being midway point, between Houston and Austin, will help bring in some pretty good size tournaments.
UmustBKidding
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I personally think funding this type of activity with CO is a pretty reliable indicator that it will never cover its expense. Had a friend that worked for cspard and he was explaining the cost they incurred for maintenance of athletic fields were crazy. Of course its seasonal but the rate with employees, benefits. equipment and supplies was well over 50k annual per field. I realize psycho baseball, soccer and others are real but i suspect the estimates are likely contrived to make things look better than reality.
techno-ag
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AG
Well it's College Station. They can just raise the surtax on utilities by a penny or two to cover it. Or levy another impact fee on new construction, raising the price of homes. Or raise the property taxes more.

I'm sure they'll find some way to fund it.
Stupe
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S
TAMU1990 said:

FYI, there is a fantastic ballpark in Franklin that holds tournaments all summer and fall. At a minimum, the CS fields could partner with Premier Baseball to hold larger tourneys, in addition to any tourneys that can be held by the city. That doesn't include tournaments that can happen during the HS baseball season. There would be increased hotel and restaurant usage during the slow summer months as well.

It's a quality of life issue for enough voters - people communicated to the counsel that they wanted to see new baseball fields in town. I don't think they are doing this on their own volition.
Yep.

That is the reason that we chose to live here.
techno-ag
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AG
TAMU1990 said:

FYI, there is a fantastic ballpark in Franklin that holds tournaments all summer and fall. At a minimum, the CS fields could partner with Premier Baseball to hold larger tourneys, in addition to any tourneys that can be held by the city. That doesn't include tournaments that can happen during the HS baseball season. There would be increased hotel and restaurant usage during the slow summer months as well.

It's a quality of life issue for enough voters - people communicated to the counsel that they wanted to see new baseball fields in town. I don't think they are doing this on their own volition.
Mumford has an excellent ballpark too. Don't forget the Bomber's field in Bryan.
CinchAG97
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TAMU1990 said:

FYI, there is a fantastic ballpark in Franklin that holds tournaments all summer and fall. At a minimum, the CS fields could partner with Premier Baseball to hold larger tourneys, in addition to any tourneys that can be held by the city. That doesn't include tournaments that can happen during the HS baseball season. There would be increased hotel and restaurant usage during the slow summer months as well.

It's a quality of life issue for enough voters - people communicated to the counsel that they wanted to see new baseball fields in town. I don't think they are doing this on their own volition.

And many of these families stay in B/CS due to the lack of lodging options in Franklin. So B/CS city governments benefit from an outstanding baseball facility built by Franklin ISD. The Franklin tournaments in the summer are limited to a degree due to a lack of fields, but they serve as a proof of concept that teams from all over the state will flock to B/CS for summer tournaments - IF the facilities and fields are absolute top notch. My biased opinion is that additional HS sized fields in B/CS would be a huge net positive to the local economy.
TAMU1990
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AG
UmustBKidding said:

I personally think funding this type of activity with CO is a pretty reliable indicator that it will never cover its expense. Had a friend that worked for cspard and he was explaining the cost they incurred for maintenance of athletic fields were crazy. Of course its seasonal but the rate with employees, benefits. equipment and supplies was well over 50k annual per field. I realize psycho baseball, soccer and others are real but i suspect the estimates are likely contrived to make things look better than reality.



Turf fields cut down on field maintenance
Brian Alg
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Looking at the replies.

Some people say this is a quality of life thing. Why should we be subsidizing baseball for out of towners? I am sure they are fine people. But if you want to spend $10 million to improve their quality of life, use your own money. Don't forcibly extract it from taxpayers because you think baseball is neat.

Some people say this is an economic impact thing. Most haven't bothered to quantify it. The only person who did brought up numbers from another park (that we have no reason to think are reliable) indicated that if these things are booked for tournaments 52 weekends a year, they will raise around $46k*4=$184k in sales taxes for BCS per year. That doesn't even cover 40% of the expected $500k in O&M.

This wasting millions of dollars is being treated like a joke because it isn't their money.
Brian Alg

Brazos Coalition for Responsible Government
Stupe
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S
Quote:

Some people say this is a quality of life thing. Why should we be subsidizing baseball for out of towners?
Little League and local travel teams will be using the fields. Those aren't out of towners.

Quote:

This wasting millions of dollars is being treated like a joke because it isn't their money.
I would think that since most of the posters on here are from this area, it is our tax payer money.
Brian Alg
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How many people in town you think need full size fields to play baseball?

Edit:

Say there are 150 people that need a full sized field to play baseball on. I would be surprised if it is that high. But for grins let's go with it.

Ignoring the massive costs of O&M, resurfacing, etc. this is costing $10 mil / 150 players = $67k per player.

If you include the $6.8 mil in HOT funds and the $18 mil they want for phase 2 it is $34.8 mil / 150 players = $232k per player.

Subsidizing those baseball players almost a quarter of a million dollars each.
Brian Alg

Brazos Coalition for Responsible Government
DR. WONG
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This is a pure economic development play. It's not about local players. It's about bringing in visitors to fill hotel rooms, eat at local restaurants, and spend money in our local stores. That's why HOT funds are involved. You seem to know this but keep beating the dead horse of local demand.

If you really want to make a cogent argument, start crunching some numbers for us on the economic impact in terms of hotel room nights, restaurant meals, and sales tax revenues.
duffelpud
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AG
But, but, but.... It's for the children!
"What's this button do?"
duffelpud
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AG
DR. WONG said:

This is a pure economic development play. It's not about local players. It's about bringing in visitors to fill hotel rooms, eat at local restaurants, and spend money in our local stores. That's why HOT funds are involved. You seem to know this but keep beating the dead horse of local demand.

If you really want to make a cogent argument, start crunching some numbers for us on the economic impact in terms of hotel room nights, restaurant meals, and sales tax revenues.
And I'll say it again - it's not the city's business to take money from one group of businesses to create jobs at city hall to help other businesses. Let's make this simple - who knows better how to run their business (including investing revenue), a national hotel chain or this bunch?

"What's this button do?"
DR. WONG
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Well, it actually is. They've been elected to allocate the resources they've legally collected from both individuals and businesses. That's the system we have. If you don't like their policy decisions, you can let them know and vote against them.
duffelpud
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AG
IMHO it's not the city's business to take money from one group of businesses to create jobs at city hall to help other businesses. In addition to voting, I can also exercise my constitutional right to free speech here (for now) and elsewhere in an effort to persuade those who don't vote TO vote; 90% of registered voters in the last city council election did not vote.
"What's this button do?"
JP76
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TAMU1990 said:

UmustBKidding said:

I personally think funding this type of activity with CO is a pretty reliable indicator that it will never cover its expense. Had a friend that worked for cspard and he was explaining the cost they incurred for maintenance of athletic fields were crazy. Of course its seasonal but the rate with employees, benefits. equipment and supplies was well over 50k annual per field. I realize psycho baseball, soccer and others are real but i suspect the estimates are likely contrived to make things look better than reality.



Turf fields cut down on field maintenance


I would like to see the cost analysis of not mowing, watering, and fertilizing grass for a decade versus turf
JP76
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Brian Alg said:

How many people in town you think need full size fields to play baseball?

Edit:

Say there are 150 people that need a full sized field to play baseball on. I would be surprised if it is that high. But for grins let's go with it.

Ignoring the massive costs of O&M, resurfacing, etc. this is costing $10 mil / 150 players = $67k per player.

If you include the $6.8 mil in HOT funds and the $18 mil they want for phase 2 it is $34.8 mil / 150 players = $232k per player.

Subsidizing those baseball players almost a quarter of a million dollars each.



150 kids ? Twelve has at least that many or more alone

Local teams in BCS


Twelve probably 12 to 15 teams of 12 kids including softball


Pride not sure how many but probably at least 3 teams of 12

Renegades probably at least 3 teams of 12

Bucks at least 5 teams of 12

G1 At least 3 teams of 12


Hurricanes not sure number of teams


Softball


BVB At least 4 teams of 12


Texas bombers at least 3 teams of 12

Cobras Not sure 1-3 teams of 12


Now if you want to include little league in your analysis that is a whole different
variable. The 9-10 year old CS little league division fielded 18 teams of 12 alone for Spring of 2022. Click on each division and you can get the number of teams and do the math since you like to crunch data. Rough guess excluding tball is ~53 teams x12 players for CS little league so minimum of 636 players on the conservative side. So 636 plus minimum of 430 travel players gets us to 1066 local players instead of your 150 player guesstimate.


https://www.collegestationlittleleague.com/sites/collegestationll/schedules





Stupe
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S
And that doesn't include Little League which has more than 150.

For someone wanting to use numbers as an argument, that 150 was pulled out of thin air.
MeKnowNot
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Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think there are two seat + the Mayor up for for election this fall?

Who's running and where do they stand on parks and more generally, fiscal spending, property taxes and all the extra fee's that CSTX likes to add-on with every purchase?
CS Iron 25
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I'd rather the ball fields than the dumb rec center they want to build. To be clear any funding should always go to safety and infrastructure first.
ukbb2003
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For the people getting hung up on the "full-size fields", they can be made smaller to accommodate younger age groups as well (just like the softball fields we have here). Speaking of softball fields, they are a whole lot more softball fields here than baseball.

Twelve alone had 14 teams in the 8U-14U age group. That is 150 kids there alone. The other organizations don't have quite as many, but they are not far behind.

The tournaments we play in are anywhere from $495-$575 per team. Let's be conservative and use $475. $475 for 32 teams (8 teams per field) is $15,200 for one weekend. Let's say tournaments are run 40 weekends a year, that is $608,000 just from tournament entry fees alone. That just not include parking fees, entry fees for spectators, concessions, etc. It also does not include money that the city gets from the select organizations for practice times during the week. Even still, this does not include the economic impact from hotels, food, shopping, etc.

I have said it before, but 4 fields is honestly not even enough to fill the need that we have here. However, I have also said that I believe this could be done more cost effectively by a private group and not the city.
Brian Alg
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ukbb2003 said:

that is $608,000 just from tournament entry fees alone.
Is it your belief that College Station gets all the tournament fees?
Brian Alg

Brazos Coalition for Responsible Government
Brian Alg
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Assuming your numbers are right and there are 1,066 College Station residents who need the big fields; scores of little leaguers who can't do without the 400 foot fences.

$10 million / 1,066 = $9,380 per player from the general fund

For the full bill which would yield 8 fields

$34.8 million / 1,066 = $32,645 per player

And that doesn't include the estimated $1 million per year in O&M, etc.
Brian Alg

Brazos Coalition for Responsible Government
Brian Alg
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CS Iron 25 said:

I'd rather the ball fields than the dumb rec center they want to build. To be clear any funding should always go to safety and infrastructure first.
It shouldn't be a matter of wasting it on ball fields or indoor pools or pickleball courts or adult kickball leagues. It's your money. It should stay in your pocket.
Brian Alg

Brazos Coalition for Responsible Government
boomer on social security
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Keep up the good work Brian.
Retired and enjoying the sweet sweet direct deposit of SSA money

2023 SSA COLA is gonna be slammin

Playing Unreal Tournament on my Optiplex 780
AgFan247
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AG
ukbb2003 said:

For the people getting hung up on the "full-size fields", they can be made smaller to accommodate younger age groups as well (just like the softball fields we have here). Speaking of softball fields, they are a whole lot more softball fields here than baseball.

Twelve alone had 14 teams in the 8U-14U age group. That is 150 kids there alone. The other organizations don't have quite as many, but they are not far behind.

The tournaments we play in are anywhere from $495-$575 per team. Let's be conservative and use $475. $475 for 32 teams (8 teams per field) is $15,200 for one weekend. Let's say tournaments are run 40 weekends a year, that is $608,000 just from tournament entry fees alone. That just not include parking fees, entry fees for spectators, concessions, etc. It also does not include money that the city gets from the select organizations for practice times during the week. Even still, this does not include the economic impact from hotels, food, shopping, etc.

I have said it before, but 4 fields is honestly not even enough to fill the need that we have here. However, I have also said that I believe this could be done more cost effectively by a private group and not the city.
Full disclosure: I have boys in both LL and travel ball.

Completely agree with the above, especially your last two points. It's not about kids needing 400' fences, its about creating fields with the most utility. The whole point of full sized turf fields is they are adjustable to any age (though I am NOT a big fan of the turf mounds).

I haven't done the numbers, but I coach and my kids have played on all the fields in town and I am all for more baseball fields and think its one of the better ways the city has decided to spend my tax dollars. It's time for another addition/upgrade/investment in youth sports outside of soccer fields. Seems like you can't throw a damn stick in this town without hitting a soccer field somewhere, but we have the same fields we have had for youth baseball in CS for the past 20 years, if not more. We have LL baseball kiddos that are 9 and sometimes younger playing games or practicing until 9pm at night on weekdays because we don't have enough fields to accommodate all the teams and kids that WANT TO PLAY BASEBALL (not sit and play a video game). They also only get to practice twice a week before games start and not at all once games start for the same reason. This town has a lot more families with kids than it did 20 years ago and city expenditures need to better reflect that when it comes to sports and recreational space.

Yes, the fields are first for the locals and those 1000 kids (I think the number is much higher than that). But the real money (in all the ways ukbb2003 mentioned) comes from Tournaments and that's a much larger number. These fields will allow for large tournaments to be run for multiple age groups across all the fields
(CS Fields/Travis/Ranch/Harvey) and bring in money (again, look at what Travis brings in from small 3 field tournaments) from visitors while still allowing the local kiddos to take advantage of the fields during the week.
Stupe
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S
Quote:

We have LL baseball kiddos that are 9 and sometimes younger playing games or practicing until 9pm at night on weekdays because we don't have enough fields to accommodate all the teams and kids that WANT TO PLAY BASEBALL (not sit and play a video game).
Exactly.
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