Tuesday, May 8, 2007

In Retrospect

Play Ball: Controversial 10 years ago, ballpark a boon to Somerset County

From the article:

"Its feasibility once fueled one of the biggest local controversies of the 1990s, but today few are left debating the sensibility of Commerce Bank Ballpark."

"Increased traffic, cost to taxpayers and possible franchise failure were popular public concerns."

"According to Freeholder Director Bob Zaborowski, Somerset County makes about a $1.1 million debt payment on the ballpark every year but earns about $1.3 million in revenue. The leftover money is saved to cover future maintenance costs."

""This has turned out to be a fabulous deal for the taxpayer," said Denise Coyle, a freeholder since 1996. "Not only do they have this beautiful ballpark where they can enjoy an afternoon with their family, but the taxpayers of Somerset County make money off the ballpark.""

"Allowing fans a place to see professional baseball for a relatively inexpensive price is only half of the ballpark's function, however. Commerce Bank Ballpark also serves as a sort of 6,100-seat town meeting place."

""If we didn't have this, would the county say, 'We have to have a minor-league baseball team?' " Zaborowski said. "But if it wasn't there, we would certainly miss it.""