Local government should help subsidize downtown baseball stadium, San Antonio respondents say
Local developer Weston Urban is eyeing a potential baseball stadium in west downtown. Results from San Antonio Power Poll indicate local government should get involved.
About a month ago, news surfaced that Weston Urban, San Antonio’s top downtown developer, was looking to add a new minor league baseball stadium to its growing portfolio. In particular, the developer was eyeing a swath of land, mostly parking or vacant lots, next to San Pedro Creek Culture Park in west downtown.
Immediately, locals began to debate whether the City of San Antonio and Bexar County—or, both—should get involved in helping to subsidize this venture. Presumably, the San Antonio Missions would relocate from Wolff Stadium, where they’ve played since 1994, into new downtown digs.
Most movers and shakers in San Antonio we polled feel local government should get involved in helping to pay for the new stadium.
Of the more than 1,000 people surveyed, 53% said the city or county should help subsidize a new stadium, while 45% said they do not support local government getting involved. Another 2% didn’t know a stadium was in the works.
For its part, Weston Urban has begun to contact property owners along San Pedro Creek, asking if they’d sell their land. Meanwhile, talks between the company and local officials have barely begun; in a recent interview, Mayor Ron Nirenberg described the talks as informal. He later said local ownership of the team would play a huge role in helping him decide whether to offer public support.
“If there are local owners involved in the franchise, that certainly changes the calculus and presents a more encouraging, more promising prospect,” Nirenberg told the San Antonio Heron last month. "There has to be a clear, demonstrated public benefit. I think with local ownership and the long-term future of the Missions, that’s more easily demonstrated.”
Such support would likely come in the form of tax breaks—either property tax abatements from the county or tax rebates from the city through its tax increment financing mechanism.
In recent years, Weston Urban co-developed the new Frost Tower, San Antonio’s first skyscraper since the late '80s, and renovated the historic Savoy and Rand office buildings nearby. In March, it broke ground on another tower, a 32-story residential building called 300 Main.
CPS Energy sticker shock?
As if the oppressive heat wasn’t enough, record-breaking CPS Energy bills have added insult to injury, according to the latest data.
In June, San Antonio energy bills jumped more than 50 percent, according to the city-owned utility. According to news reports, the average bill increase was $225, a hike of roughly $75 from a year ago.
The vast majority of San Antonio power players say they have felt the energy bill increase, 81% agreeing with the description that it’s getting worse, while 17% said their bills are about the same compared to previous months. Another 2% described their energy bill as improving.
According to the utility, half of the summer increase—or, $37—was due to San Antonians purchasing more energy in order to cool their homes and businesses. Temperatures have exceeded 100 degrees most of the days this summer; in July, 23 of the 31 days were above 100 degrees.
The utility also said rising bills can be attributed to the rising cost of natural gas.
How hot does it feel?
Of course, San Antonians are used to sweltering summers. But does this one feel hotter?
According to a recent poll, 81% of Power Poll respondents said this summer does feel hotter, while 19% said it feels about the same.
In mid-July, the director of Texas’ power grid said he was worried the high-demand statewide was putting too much stress on the system.
"Things are going to break," Michele Richmond, executive director of Texas Competitive Power Advocates, told the San Antonio Express-News last month. "We have an aging fleet that’s being run harder than it’s ever been run."
This week, CPS Energy said all of its power plants were back up and running; in May and June, three plants were shut down due to high usage.
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About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of the most powerful, influential people in U.S. cities. It is not a scientific survey. But because the people responding to the surveys comprise the leadership structure of their cities, the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those in a position to make change. Power Poll is distinctly nonpartisan.