Don’t Let Them Slip Away
Why We Need to Keep the Nationals Here
Writer George Orwell once stated, “Whoever controls the past controls the future, and whoever controls the present controls the past.” In other words, our perspectives on the future are shaped by what we believe has happened in the past, and whoever is providing the data about the past right now shapes that view.
Currently there are some myths floating around that could result in us losing another economic engine to our economy.
Myth 1: Brevard taxpayers fund the Nationals.
The voters passed a referendum approving a one-cent tourist tax to build the stadium for professional baseball – therefore our visitors pay for the Nationals. The Nationals receive approximately $300,000 from that penny annually for stadium improvements; the rest goes to pay off the bond and the Office of Tourism receives about $250,000.
Myth 2: The Nationals are only in Brevard for 30 days.
The Nationals operate with 30-50 players and employees year-round in Viera, creating an annual economic impact in excess of $20 million. For a $300,000 annual investment derived from visitors’ money, that seems like an excellent return on investment (ROI) and a GREAT DEAL for the county.
Myth 3: The Washington Nationals want to leave Viera.
The Nationals enjoy Viera for a multitude of reasons and there are more reasons to stay than relocate. The Nationals have not stated they want to leave Space Coast Stadium. They have asked one question: “What is the exit penalty to the contract that expires in 2017?” The only reason they asked the question is because the stadium construction bond will be paid off in 2013. They are a good business and must explore their options.
Myth 4: Viera is a bad location logistically for Spring Training.
Spring Training teams within a 90-minute drive remain basically the same regardless of your location in Florida. The developmental league located in Viera that plays for five months has to travel way too much. The Fort Myers location for developmental league has five teams within 30 minutes, meaning no bus, hotel or food expenses. The Mets have already relocated their development league to Ft. Myers, but play their spring schedule in Port St. Lucie.
Myth 5: The Nationals are a losing team.
The Nationals are 1-2 years ahead of schedule and are at the top of their division this year. As stated in a recent Sports Illustrated article, their cash basis to retain top quality players mixed with their draft and development strategy is paying off. The increase of economic revenue is exponential with a championship and the Nationals are a good bet.
Myth 6: The Nationals do not help our community.
The players, grounds crew, staff, coaches and trainers have all helped and volunteered to our youth and organizations throughout the community. They provide employment opportunities for our retirees, disabled and charities every year. Our youth programs and high schools benefit tremendously from player visits and complimentary services to help maintain fields and create playing opportunities, just to mention a few.
Myth 7: The community can create more economic revenue with AAU/youth baseball programs at Space Coast Stadium.
Youth baseball is successful where Major League Baseball teams reside: Disney – Braves; Kissimmee – Astros; Ft. Myers – Red Sox and Twins; Boca Raton – Cardinals and Marlins. The reasons for this success are simple: the kids want to play where the “big boys” play and the cost and skill to maintain the facilities properly is only capable of being done, physically and fiscally, by the grounds crew of the major league teams. You need to look no further than the Cocoa Expo for an example of what happens when Major League Baseball leaves a facility. Additionally, the training complex at Space Coast Stadium, which houses three full fields, is owned by the Nationals and The Viera Company. You cannot run youth tournaments on one field.
Washington D.C. is a direct connection to Brevard County businesses, and Brevard is easily the largest economy tied to D.C. in the state of Florida. Like it or not, Washington D.C. is a recession-proof economy. Its residents and the surrounding areas want to relocate and/or visit Florida. The Nationals want to build a baseball entertainment destination and they have five years invested into creating a following for their spring season in Viera.
Major League Baseball is an excellent investment for economic growth for any community. This past March, our community received national recognition on ESPN, national news, and Sports Illustrated numerous times because of the marquee players on the Nationals. This alone is invaluable to our community. Why do you think the other communities in our state are so pleased with their teams?
Bottom Line: The Nationals would like to stay in Brevard County and we need to start leading the charge to keep them here, instead of letting negative and misinformed press and myths influence us and push them out. As a community, we need to deal with the TRUTH. Losing the Nationals is not necessary and would be a tremendous economic loss. The business community needs to take the lead and NOW is the time to ACT.
Jeff Piersall is the CEO of SCB Marketing, which publishes SpaceCoast Business magazine. Contact him at (321) 537-4941 or email@example.com