Former big leaguers step up to the plate
Since I’ve blogged about people who don’t support charging a countywide admissions tax to bring the Yakima Bears to Vancouver, I’ll give equal time to those who do.
Mike Bomar, executive director of the Southwest Washington Contractor’s Association who started the Facebook page “Bring Pro Baseball to Vancouver,” sent out the following letter Wednesday, which concludes with quotes from former pro players.
Dear Mr. Mayor, Council Members and Commissioners,
I am writing to thank you for your participation in the process to consider a multi-use facility at Clark College that would allow for Minor League Baseball to locate in Vancouver and all the benefits that come with it. I appreciate both the comments of support and the concerns and questions over the proposed public funding mechanism. I expect that you will soon receive a report illustrating the expected economic impacts and benefits of this facility. As the proposal moves forward, I strongly encourage you to consider the job creation (both construction and ongoing), tourism benefits, tax revenue, community identity, quality of life and youth recreational activities that this facility will allow. I strongly believe that for all stakeholders, this project is clearly a tremendous benefit to the community.
It is true that times are still very tough, but I challenge you to focus on the opportunities that will help move the community forward and use our scarce resources in a way that will create ongoing revenue opportunities for Clark County and the City of Vancouver. The leading business groups have been researching this opportunity and the SWCA, ICC and CREDC have all officially cast their support. This project is not the subsidization of a private enterprise, it is exactly the opposite. This project is economic development and the kind that will encourage more businesses to locate here.
For those of you who support this project, I thank you. To those who think it is necessary, but have concerns about the proposed financing, I encourage you to take the lead in finding alternate solutions. To those who are not interested in this effort, I encourage you to get informed. To those business and community leaders included on this message, I ask you to please voice your support as well.
Council, good luck with your retreat this weekend.
Thank you for your consideration and service to this great community. I will leave you with quotes from four local former Major League ball players.
15 year major league pitcher
Prairie HS grad (1989)
“Minor league baseball was grueling, difficult, frustrating, and one of the greatest times of my life. You find out a lot about yourself. More importantly, you find out a lot about people. Competing for a job in the game you have loved for your lifetime and developing relationships with new guys on the ball club daily. Enjoying the fans in each city you play in. They love the same game you play whether they are for your team or not. The kids that get the biggest thrill out of talking to us are great. The home stays that are arranged at the lowest levels are tremendous.”
“The towns are all the same. There is a buzz about the city during the baseball season. Players go out to dinner or breakfast in the local restaurants and the locals enjoy visiting with us, home team or visitor. They want to know you and wish us luck in our career. Weekend games draw an excitement with all the people coming in to town for the games. The motels, restaurants, café’s, campgrounds, all businesses for that matter reap the reward of the summer activity. The value of having a minor league team is immeasurable. It brings business to the community as well as identity to the community. Go for it Vancouver.”
17 years Professional Baseball
“Professional baseball provides communities and cities invaluable benefits. Community and national identity increases immediately. National recognition will be a daily event. Scores will be broadcast on television, radio, and on the internet pin pointing Vancouver. For Vancouver, USA a separation from our northern counterpart and namesake. Can you imagine the excitement when the two collide in either venue?”
“The pro ball club will bring people from the east county, Portland and up to Centralia and Olympia. Fans from Goldendale, Stevenson, The Dalles and Hood river will travel west to take in the only pro team in the Portland/Vancouver region. Salem/Kiezer is the closest pro team available. Their fans will make the short trip to Vancouver to watch their team and bring economic benefit to Clark County. Likewise with the Eugene followers. Baseball fans will contribute to our economy by participating in affordable, safe and fun entertainment. The opportunity to see young ballplayers who will be gracing the major league diamonds in a few short seasons.”
“Local businesses will have more advertising opportunities and regional exposure. In addition to the added bonus of partnering up with a major league baseball affiliate. Vancouver is on the verge of growing more nationally. Let’s get it done.”
8 Years in Professional Baseball
To whom it may concern,
My name is Tom McGraw and I am a former professional baseball player with eight years of minor league experience as well as a brief stint at the major league level with the St. Louis Cardinals. I’ve played all around the nation at most every minor league ballpark and I would like to share with you what I consider to be the most important reason why baseball, and for that matter, all athletic competition is a profoundly essential cog in the wheel that we call our community.
In each and every arena of competition there is one feeling that permeates undeniably through them all and that is the pre-game buzz of hope. There are very few settings other than in an athletic field of competition that one can experience the optimistic feelings of hope that inherently comes with purchasing a ticket to watch their hometown team compete for the championship. Where else can a large mass of people gather together to forget about the worries of the day over a three hour span of time both yelling in anger at one point and five minutes later cheering in ecstasy? And of course there is truly nothing like buying a snack or meal item unique only to the ballpark you are in and sitting down for the ceremonial opening pitch. I mean, where else can one personally experience the thrilling vibration that builds from within that comes with walking down the stadium corridor leading out to a field of dreams?
Personally, my fondest recollection of being a part of a professional baseball team about to play at my hometown baseball park came to life in the thirty minutes prior to the first pitch, for it is only in this relatively microscopic span of time that a soul can experience the incredible positive energy and carnival atmosphere being produced by the fans and players alike, all hoping, (and some even praying), to see or be the player that goes 6 for 6 with 12 RBI’s, or be the pitcher to pitch a game of perfection.
I know that there are always going to be the additional revenues created that inherently come with the addition of a professional sport to a town or city, and that this is what truly drives this community expanding endeavor, but I would also ask that we consider the great intangible of hope that blossoms as well. After all, there are vastly abundant ways to make money in this world, but how many ways can one create hope for the masses? The reality is this, in a ballpark anything really can happen, and if you don’t believe me then come grab a dog and a cold beverage and see for yourself.
10 years in professional baseball
“The value of minor league baseball can be measured by the dollars that are drawn into each minor league city. I know that is what cities, governments, and chamber of commerce want to show. But, the thrill of going to the ballpark every day, seeing the stands fill up with families wanting to be entertained, and the excitement of the game regardless of the outcome is what is important. As a young player growing up in Vancouver, baseball was always important to me. As I went through the minors and into the major leagues I was set back by how important baseball was to the communities and cities we played in. Each city has numerous high schools or divided factions that draw alliances. A minor league team pulls all of those together and bands the community as one. It gives them a common bond they can identify with. Vancouver has that chance.”
“Yes dollars are a measuring stick but community interest and community pride brings a perspective that is more important for the whole.”