The other day, I wrote about the financial difficulties of the St. Louis Cardinals’ Class-A affiliate, the Peoria Chiefs. In a Thursday editorial, the Peoria Journal Star shared more information about the situation without any more insight about exactly what the club’s owners might be asking for.
The position of the paper was clear – the only additional help they believe should be considered by the city to relieve the club’s financial woes would be to reduce the $12.6 million at which Chiefs Stadium is currently valued for tax purposes.
The club has been in technical default on its stadium mortgage for several years, still owing $4.2 million to multiple banks.
In 2002, local taxpayers already “put up $3.5 million toward the $16 million ballpark, plus another $2.2 million for the buyout of a drying cleaning business that was standing in the way, plus provided the benefits of being in a tax increment financing district,” the paper reports.
The story told is not unlike that surrounding new ballparks in other cities – overly optimistic projections of how the facility will be used for a variety of non-baseball activities and become a magnet for other businesses.
In this case, a Ballpark Village-like entertainment development was envisioned and sold to the locals. Originally billed as “Little Wrigley,” based on the Chiefs’ then-affiliation with the Chicago Cubs, it has not come to pass over a decade later.
The paper stopped short of calling for a sale of the club, but also did not express concern if it was required – even if the prospective new owner would not be locally-based.
I can see where they are coming from. After all, the Cardinals themselves have prospered for going on two decades under the leadership of a Cincinnati resident, Bill DeWitt Jr.