Streetcar Boondoggle vs. Paul Brown Stadium

Worst case projected scenario for the cost to the city on streetcar operating expenses net of income:  $2,400,000.

Last year’s actual cost to service the debt on the Paul Brown stadium, written up in both Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal as one of the worst public-private partnership financing disasters in the history of the country:  $50,000,000 (25% of the county’s operating budget).  The county has had to cut 1,700 jobs since the project was completed – even though one of the big promises was job creation.

You’ve got to be kidding me.

Shall we talk about the casino next????????????

12 thoughts on “Streetcar Boondoggle vs. Paul Brown Stadium

    1. Jeff Capell

      Incorrect. COAST did not form until 1999, and many of its current members opposed that scam. I didn’t move here until 1999, though I’m on record campaigning against a similar stadium tax scam they tried in Columbus in 1997. Roxanne Qualls, however, not only supported the local stadium tax, but she campaigned heavily for it.

  1. Steve Deiters

    No surprises here. Probably the primary reason so many people were gun shy of the streetcar. I believe this was even referenced in the HDR study.

    “COAST supported the stadium plan” So what. Not sure what DB’s point is. It was a bad a idea from the get go also.

    1. executivedreamer Post author

      I can’t speak for DB, but my point is that we citizens have to take more responsibility for being part of the decision-making process on high risk projects: quantify risks and be very, very conservative in our projections. You can set your watch by this prediction: We’re going to start to have problems on Great American Tower in 2027. Casino is already looking scary and that one’s only 2 years old. We’ve got at least 3 big Neyer projects coming up for votes and 2 new construction deals from Eagle on Lytle Park. I think we can negotiate better deals for the city, don’t you?

    2. 5chw4r7z

      I think the point Derek is trying to make is that that group has been a fountain of incredibly bad ideas so why does anyone give them the time of day?

      1. Jeff Capell

        If you’re against bad plans and bad ideas, then how about giving some credit when we help make things better. We discovered some key flaws in the original museum tax plan and worked with Commissioners to produce a better plan. Some of our ideas that made it into the final proposal include:
        1) Cut the Sales Tax hike from up to 14 years to a maximum of 5 years.
        2) Protected county taxpayers from cost overruns by defining the specific county donation ($170 million)
        3) Got a straight up-or-down vote on the one building that had the public support.
        4) Due to #3, significantly cut down finance costs. Most of the tax dollars will go towards renovating the building and not towards interest on debt.
        5) Introduced a user fee so that those from outside Hamilton County who use the building will have to contribute something to the building (though I admittedly don’t know exactly where this stands right now)
        6) Got project management off the county’s hands – they have a county to run.
        7) Ensured that maintenance won’t be the county’s responsibility.

        Not bad work on short notice.

  2. Mike Rozow

    If we can give parking revenues to the Port Authority from Fountain Square South, why can we use parking revenue from Washington Park garage to cover some of the operating revenues for the street car

    1. executivedreamer Post author

      We can’t use parking revenue from Washington Park garage to cover streetcar operating revenues because that money is already spoken for. We issue bonds to pay for construction and pay the bonds back with parking revenues. Notice Fountain Square South is an older project. Port Authority had to agree to do repairs and they get to keep anything left over to fund their operation – and they have been perpetually walking around with their hands out, looking for money since the beginning. In the strategic planning session they have discussed trying to float a tax levy at some point. (Yes, folks- the Port Authority with its politically appointed representatives has the right to have a police force, own land, and levy taxes.)

  3. Steve Deiters

    “….we citizens have to take more responsibility for being part of the decision-making process on high risk projects:…..”

    I couldn’t agree with you more.

  4. Jeff Capell

    Fair point Kathy. One thing that the stadiums, streetcar, and casino all have in common – they all had their wonderful, professional “studies” projecting far greater numbers than the real-world results.

    The stadiums were going to be an economic bonanza and the tax would be paid off in 20 years. In reality the tax will go at least 36 years (and likely longer) and the economic benefits have been negligible. The casinos were going to generate $20 million/year for Cincinnati; it’s already below half that.. The streetcar was going to be a $100 million project that could operate itself. Now we’re probably at $149 million and solid operating deficits.

    This region constantly lets itself be mislead into bad projects based on bad studies and projections. As Economist I like numbers, but if you can’t trust them they don’t do much good. There have to be more good arguments than just the usual overoptimistic studies to justify public projects, especially discretionary ones like stadiums, streetcars, and museums.


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