Legislature, Council Need More Information About Costs, Benefits Of JCC Stadium Project

New York state spends $26,581 a year to educate a child in public school.

If that gives you sticker shock, consider this: Jamestown Community College makes the state’s public school spending per pupil look like a yard sale bargain. Jamestown Community College officials keep citing its need to satisfy 160 athletes as reasons to spend between $27 million and $30 million on a renovation of Russell E. Diethrick Park into a multi-sport venue. The bigger of the two projects amounts to $187,500 per athlete – seven times more than the state spends to educate a public school student.

Let’s hope the college isn’t planning on focusing on New York residents to fill its athletic rosters. In-state tuition is $5,540 a year. That means it would take 5,415 in-state athletes, or 33 years’ worth of athletics rosters filled entirely with in-state athletes, before the college earned in tuition what the proposed sports facility will cost taxpayers. The number is cut in half to 2,757, or a mere 17.23 years of out-of-state athletics rosters, if JCC caters to out-of-state residents to fill its athletic rosters.

That type of math is likely one reason why JCC officials are trying to broaden the stadium project beyond just athletics by pointing to greater use of the park by the general community.

“This is more of a destination project than a project just for the college,” JCC President Daniel DeMarte told City Council members this week.

The City Council and County Legislature should need a lot more detail than that before agreeing to either the $27 million or the $30 million project. What is the college planning, as the new owner of the stadium once the city transfers its lease to the college, to draw more than JCC athletics and baseball fans to the area? Because for the stadium to have any further economic impact, it will have to be programmed with something before and after baseball season. For those who haven’t noticed, Jamestown has struggled to pull off events over the past few years that don’t involve the Jamestown Area Chamber of Commerce or Pat Smeraldo’s Collaborative Children’s Solutions. So if part of the justification for a major ballpark renovation is increased use of the stadium, area lawmakers should ask JCC for some sort of a business plan to show how the stadium project is economically viable.

The point we’re trying to make is this – before we get into the weeds over parkland alienation, let’s take a look at the business plan for this stadium from all angles, not just the college’s. Because in our view, the math is a bit fuzzy. And, JCC seems to be playing the role of playground bully in an attempt to force a self-serving project on city and county public officials as well as taxpayers. Perhaps if the project doesn’t happen then the college can blame everyone else.


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