A decrease in property values in the area and an assessment that Aces Ballpark is now worth less than half the construction price is forcing Reno to pay $1 million this year in subsidies to its developer, the Reno Aces (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) — and that payment may need to be repeated annually in coming years.
Aces Ballpark was build with some serious subsidies from the city; it was pitched as an economic-development tool from the beginning. It was wrapped into other projects projected by the Aces ownership; some of the projects, like bars and restraurants, did end up being built. But the largest project, the Freight House, was postponed, as the developers have not been able to close other development in the area.
The deal calls for the team to be paid up to $1 million annually by the Reno Redevelopment Agency if taxes generated by new construction didn’t reach that level. So, the long and short of it: because development didn’t occur at the rate assumed by the city and the ballclub, the city is subsidizing the ballclub — to the point where virtually all the money coming through the Reno Redevelopment Agency is going to the team. In fact, the agency is technically running in the red: the city has taken over some of its financial commitments, and it’s trimmed staff to the point where there’s just a skeleton staff of 1.5 employees in place.
Now, we could look back in five years and say that the ballpark was worth the short-term financial pain, that it ended up creating lots of jobs and commerce in downtown Reno. But there’s definitely some short-term pain involved here for the city of Reno — and time will tell whether the ballpark was worth the pain.
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