As we look at what’s going in at the South
Kitsap Industrial Area, the New York Times has a story about a number of
publicly financed stadiums that get demolished before the bills are
all paid off. The Kingdome is in there. The story is mostly about
Giants Stadium in New Jersey. The piece begins:
It’s the gift that keeps on taking. The old Giants Stadium,
demolished to make way for New Meadowlands Stadium, still carries
about $110 million in debt, or nearly $13 for every New Jersey
resident, even though it is now a parking lot.
The reasons are complex and you might argue that comparing what
New Jersey did with the Meadowlands to what International Speedway
Corp. wanted to do in parts of SKIA is a faulty activity. Had ISC’s
projections been correct about the number of people coming to
Washington who otherwise would not have come here, then it is
possible that a speedway could have been built without adding any
additional tax burden on anyone in Washington.
For perspective on how NASCAR is doing, an ESPN column by Terry Blount
provides an interesting assessment of how NASCAR schedules are made
and what influences them. International Speedway Corp., the company
that was going to sink millions into a track here, wants to shrink
its workforce and other expenses. The sport is hurting from lower
attendance. On the other hand and from a purely Northwest-selfish
perspective, the article also points out ISC’s muscle in terms of
scheduling. It’s unlikely the company would build a track and not
have it host races. Given the scheduling shifts going on for 2011,
you could rightly wonder how many people would show up here if we
had races. It’s all the more interesting because 2011 would have
been the year the track would have been ready.
The speedway’s possible economic benefit still has its former
supporters bringing the idea up when, say, Chris Endresen gets appointed to the Puget
Sound Regional Council and has as one of her responsibilities
economic development. Endresen, as county commissioner, was tough
on the track.
The Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal scoffed at the idea of
Endresen’s new appointment, writing:
Endresen’s active opposition to NASCAR, which would have created
hundreds of local unionized construction jobs — jobs which would be
contributing heavily to our local economy at this point in the
recession — as well as about 50 permanent jobs, was the overriding
theme of local businesspeople contacted to comment for this story.
Most didn’t want to be quoted, but all were vitriolic off the
record, with several laughing out loud and asking if it was a
You see, the recession we’re in gets used in arguments for and
against the track. Those against it say NASCAR’s lagging attendance
and its fans’ increasing willingness to be more budget conscious
show that making any gamble involving public money a bad bet. Those
who support it say at least now there would have been high-paying
jobs going on right now at a time when such a reality would
certainly be welcome.
It’s old news, and this question is likely to come up again, but
I’m still interested in your thoughts. Did we turn down a golden
goose, or did we wisely reject a deal with the devil? Have any of
you changed your mind since we had this discussion three years
Vote in the poll and leave your comments here if you like.