Digressions, Digressions, Digressions.
Digressions, Digressions, Digressions.
But really — how do we pay for stadiums and why can't we use those dollars for parks?
Congrats to our friends in Houston and the Houston Astros for a huge win in what was one of the best World Series in recent memory (see Game 2 and Game 5). I say recent memory because, clearly, the best World Series in my lifetime was the 1991 World Series where the Minnesota Twins bested the Atlanta Braves in seven games — highlighted by a walkoff home run by Kirby Puckett in game 6 and punctuated by a 10 inning shutout masterpiece by veteran hurler Jack Morris in their ridiculously loud and admittedly awful place to watch baseball, the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.  

Anyway, during the seemingly endless pitching changes of this year's World Series, I got to thinking about stadiums. These are great gathering places where regional fans of all stripes and sizes come together to cheer on their favorite squad. Every year, it seems the latest and greatest Taj Mahal to professional athletics opens in a city somewhere to great fanfare. And while we the taxpayers foot a whole bunch of the bill, many of us don't get to enjoy these spaces. As you know, the cost of attending a game is too far out of reach for many people, especially individuals with families.
It's weird, we don't seem to bat an eye at imposing regional sales taxes, hotel or rental car taxes, or surcharges to subsidize stadiums that a relatively small number of people use a few times a year. If as a society we justify spending millions or billions of dollars to make our regions "competitive" by having professional sports, why not make the case for investments in parks and public spaces using these same financing mechanisms? Far more residents and visitors use parks, and use them year round. And, the great thing about parks is you don't need a personal seat license to visit (which won't be tax deductible anymore under the current House tax reform proposal, begging the question — how the hell were personal seat licenses ever deductible).
Now is the time to rethink how we view regional amenities. Now is the time to have an honest conversation about what we mean by quality of life. I argue that a regional network of parks and trails is far more valuable for business retention and attraction, tourism, and from a simple ROI analysis. We use parks everyday and they are open to everyone. Even the most used stadiums are guaranteed only a fraction of the year — baseball stadiums, 81 games a year or roughly a quarter of a year; NBA  arenas, 41 games; NHL rinks, 41 games, NFL stadiums, eight to 10 games depending on preseason schedule.
A recent Minneapolis City Pages story excoriates the city of Minneapolis, the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board, and the Minnesota Vikings about the details surrounding a new $25 million downtown park adjacent to the admittedly lovely U.S. Bank Stadium which came in at a cool $1.06 billion — of which $348 million were state taxpayer dollars and $150 million of hospitality tax proceeds imposed by the City of Minneapolis. Talk about small bill, so why are we fighting over the scraps? Instead why not fight to make sure that future corporate giveaways at least have some community benefit?
From now on, when we're being held hostage by some billionaire owner threatening to relocate our beloved sports franchise for greener pastures and more often than not our city or region will capitulate, let's get something out of it.  Next time, in the next city, some of those "hospitality taxes" should fund the places in our communities that are truly hospitable to all visitors and residents alike — our parks.
Kevin O'Hara
Vice President of Urban and Government Affairs

Hey Congress, If the Budget Ain't Broke Don't Fix It

Last week, Congress passed its final FY2018 budget framework. It's important to keep in mind that although Congress has passed its framework, the spending levels for individual programs (called appropriations) have not been finalized. This past fiscal year, the majority of our priority programs fared well, especially in light of proposed cuts and program eliminations. Our best bet for FY2018 will be to maintain the funding levels of FY2017.

Read More on the Blog


Are You Annoying? And Other Fun Tidbits to Have Conversations that Matter: Interview with Jessica Pettitt

If you attended the Wednesday keynote at the NRPA Annual Conference in New Orleans, you already got a taste of Social Justice Educator Jessica Pettitt's humorous, but straightforward advice on how to have difficult conversations that matter. On Open Space Radio, Jessica shares more of her expertise on tackling diversity and inclusion issues, as well as how to be "good enough now."

Listen Now
Trending Stories
American Society of Landscape Architects
A new research report from the Nature Conservancy argues that for just $8 per person, the U.S. could maintain and then significantly expand the tree canopy of American cities, an incredibly cost-effective investment in public health.
Is the future of environmentalism build, build, build?
Next City
In July, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh released an ambitious resilience plan outlining short-, medium- and long-term strategies for climate adaption, all filtered through an equity lens.
Next City
Brooklyn's Gowanus Canal, one of the most polluted waterways in the U.S., became a federally-designated superfund site in 2010, meaning, as the Architect's Newspaper puts it, that for seven years it's been identified as "a significant hazard to people, animals, plants, and everything alive."
The Wall Street Journal
Since preserve was completed, homeowners have submitted fewer flood insurance claims.
National League of Cities
Just published online: A new resource for city leaders who want to take steps to connect more children to nature more equitably, from the National League of Cities Institute for Youth, Education, and Families (YEF Institute) and the Children & Nature Network.
Urbanization has unintended consequences on city-dwelling creatures, from the peppered moths of the Industrial Revolution to today's pesticide-resistant bed bug.
Public and Green Spaces
Houston Chronicle
What if all Houstonians – and all Americans in urban areas – were within a 10-minute walking distance to a park?
Everyone should have ready access to a high-quality park, but it's especially important for low-income neighborhoods.
Neighborhood green spaces aren't always living up to their full potential.
The Globe and Mail
For this instalment of an occasional series looking at the best city-building in the world, we take it outside to see how other cities get creative about where people come together.
The 14 projects profiled here represent the range of fresh ideas coming from local leaders and communities of all types across the U.S. With a small group of committed people, one of these might make your community more livable for people of all ages, too.
A new study pegs the value of America's urban land at more than $25 trillion as of 2010. But the differences between cities are stark.
Cities are removing benches in an effort to counter vagrancy and crime—at the same time that they're adding them to make the public realm more age-friendly.
The New York Times
The National Park Service proposed peak-season entrance fee increases on Tuesday at 17 of its most popular attractions, including Yellowstone, Grand Canyon and Yosemite national parks, to help finance a backlog of maintenance and improvements.
In Other News
Parks & Recreation Magazine
Having a better understanding of what drives public officials' budget priorities can help arm park and recreation professionals with the tools needed to get greater and more stable funding.
A new analysis puts data to the sentiment that there's increasing inequality between cities.
Next City
"Sidewalk Toronto" will be a "new kind of mixed-use, complete community" on roughly 800 acres of the city's eastern waterfront.
"Often, lonely people long to be noticed by another person who says, 'I see you.'" That's where Sidewalk Talk comes in.
Recreational tree climbers relish the peace and quiet they find in the urban canopy. As the hobby gains traction, they hope more cities will allow it to flourish.
NRPA-Connect-Logo-Icon-White.png facebook twitter Instagram
customerservice@nrpa.org  |  800.626.NRPA (6772)  |  www.nrpa.org
© 2017 National Recreation and Park Association, All Rights Reserved

22377 Belmont Ridge Road, Ashburn, VA 20148