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Monday, February 02, 2009

What's that smell? A stadium or an incinerator?

From today's Sporting News Today:
Putting the new Minnesota Twins ballpark next to a garbage burner wasn't supposed to be a problem. But Hennepin County officials are now looking at spending $2.3 million to remodel the county burner's building and grounds, with a big chunk of that money for controlling odor. The burner takes in a thousand tons of garbage a day, and it's right next to the downtown Minneapolis stadium that opens in 2010. Plans to cut down the odor include moving truck entry to a side of the burner that doesn't face the stadium, and creating a double-door setup to keep the smells inside. And trucks would be sprayed as they depart to kill odor.
This seems a bit absurd, but here is a rather straightforward explanation. The new stadium is funded with public tax dollars and therefore the public is best served if the stadium is built on the cheapest land available, that is, in a value-crater. Using five to ten acres for a stadium site is not very productive use of limited land within a city's borders. Many stadiums have been built in such value craters, including in Philadelphia, New York (Bronx and Queens), Irving (TX), Miami, and now in Arlington (TX).

What would be an interesting project is to test how the values of properties around the incinerator not affiliated with the stadium are impacted by the clean-up affiliated with the incinerator adjustments.

Nevertheless, if the Twins had built their own stadium it is more likely that the stadium would have been built on land not directly adjacent to the incinerator and the state/city wouldn't have to be kicking in money to "fix" the incinerator's odor problem.

A final question is what the city/state does if the odor abatement doesn't work? Do they move the stadium? Well, no. Do they move the incinerator? Probably. And that would incur additional cost to the local tax payers, impose new costs on property owners close to the new location of the incinerator, and grant new benefits to property owners close to the current location of the incinerator.

Stadium economics - how great it is.

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