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Ginning up ballpark opposition

Proposed Potomac Nationals ballpark

There’s always some level of opposition to a new ballpark; NIMBY folks usually aren’t hard to find. But sometimes the media goes out of its way to find them, as we’re seeing in Prince William County and El Paso.

Take, for example, this report from the Examiner. The headline holds lot of promise: “New stadium triggers debate in Woodbridge.” It would seem to indicate that some level of opposition has risen against a proposed new ballpark for the Potomac Nationals (High Class A; Carolina League).

But that’s not the case: instead, we have quotes from a single neighbor of the project complaining about potentially being impacted by ballpark traffic is what’s already an upscale retail area (IKEA, Potomac Mills and another retail mall are all nearby) generating a ton of traffic. There’s no indication he speaks for anyone but himself, and there’s certainly no indication of any organized opposition to the ballpark. If you want to see a pure example of a NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) attitude, here it is.

Similarly, we read this story from El Paso Inc. and passed on it because it doesn’t really add to the ballpark discussion: a reader then wrote us and urged us to post it because it was “interesting spin to try and stoke the fires some more down in El Paso.”

Well…it’s not up to us to stoke the fires in El Paso. Former Fresno Mayor Jim Patterson may mean well, but what happened financially with a Fresno Grizzlies (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) ballpark really doesn’t apply to the El Paso ballpark plan; even he admits it’s comparing apples and oranges. And so far the ballpark opposition in that Texas city has fallen far short of the threshold of seriousness: out of a city of 655,000, opponents couldn’t find 1,600 people to sign a petition to put the question of a new downtown facility to voters, and about 110 people showed up to a public meeting to express opposition to the the ballpark plan. There simply is no credible opposition to a new Triple-A ballpark in El Paso. 

Plus, it’s kinda hard to say that Stockton is going broke because city built a Triple-A downtown ballpark: about the only thing correct in that assertion is the spelling of Stockton.

There is a standard journalistic formula at play here: find an opponent, paint a black-and-white argument and treat both sides equally. But in this case, there no indication both sides should be taken equally seriously. There are areas where ballpark opponents need to be heeded and respected because they’re representing a real movement — as is the case in Wilmington, N.C. — but El Paso and Prince William County are not among them.


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