Well, Surprise, Surprise…

It wasn’t the most prominent story in this morning’s newspaper, in fact, if you didn’t read the Business Outlook section closely, you probably missed it. The story is that the taxpayer-financed Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho is losing money. (subscription required) Of course, I just noticed that the Tribune reported this story a week ago…
Anyway, while backers expected the arena to earn $1.6 million in its first year, the arena actually lost $47 million. Poor attendance at minor league hockey games and the “newness of the arena” were blamed, but new facilities usually result in more fans and profits, not less, so I don’t see the situation turning around anytime soon.
it is no surprise to anyone who follows public financing of arenas or railroads and streetcars that the cost estimates and profits are low-balled early to get the public to commit and then the costs are jacked up once it is too late to turn back. We’re seeing it right now with the Rail Runner. Thankfully, it looks like Albuquerque Mayor Marty Chavez will be too distracted (subscription required) with other activities to spend his time wasting taxpayer money on arenas and streetcars.

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