December 9, 2022
The proposed baseball stadium provides more questions than answers. Where are the studies detailing the full cost, break even threshold for future ticket sales, and previous studies on increased economic growth? Is there an analysis of the exact building maintenance and utilities that the county and taxpayers will be responsible for in comparison to what is currently being spent to inadequately maintain the Wellness Complex after the contract expires? What is deemed covered under their promises of routine maintenance vs. upgrades required by the league? How much will the facility need to charge for tickets or rentals to break even on costs? What adjustment rate for soaring inflation has been factored into the long term fixed and fluctuating costs? Where has this model turned a sustained profit and boosted a community into economic prosperity?
In researching this proposal I can find no positive results for any city or county who attempted to utilize this strategy. In fact, every community added millions of dollars in bonds to their property taxes to cover their losses. I did a search and every single one had a negative economic impact. Not one was self-supporting, and many were torn down within 10-20 years so taxpayers would hopefully forget that they were still paying for them.
If this were actually a profitable investment, they wouldn’t need the county to be on the hook for the stadium. Jeff L. Eiseman’s companies would simply purchase property and build it–except the first company, Azalea Sports Ventures, LLC, has only existed since October 2021 and wouldn’t be eligible for this type of financing. And his second company, (a holding company called Agon Sports & Entertainment) is owned by business partner Chris Schoen, who has had 27 LLCs, approximately half of which have been dissolved. Instead he is specifically looking for cities and counties that can easily be lured by flashy salesmanship and don’t look deep enough into the details. They also look to municipalities that are willing to pass things without public comment periods or a deeper look at the actual financial implications.
This same “business model” has been pushed by Frank Boulton of the Atlantic League for decades and has cost city after city millions, causing economic downturn and increasing taxes to crippling levels. The municipalities find themselves completely responsible for maintenance, utilities, insurance, liabilities, and anything else that may come up.
Jeff Eiseman was quoted by news station WRDW/WAGT in May 2021 as saying the pandemic cost them millions upon millions at the Augusta SRP Stadium, because the new stadium (built in 2018) required upgrades dictated by the MLB and were crippled by the pandemic. If these ventures were so profitable then they wouldn’t want the county to own the property and have the “revenue”. They aren’t profitable. They are a money pit scam.
Jenny Smith, Pocatello