Now that the local backers of bringing the Chicago Cubs to Collier County for spring training have said they may ask county commissioners for a share of an existing or expanded tourist tax, it is a good time to signal for a business approach.
The public — fans and skeptics alike — would appreciate seeing a plan. That would include financing, and that would include how much, if any, tourist tax is needed as opposed to wanted.
Part of a business plan might forecast how many heads in beds would be generated by the Cubs coming here. We acknowledge the Cubs’ following is large and substantial — and loyal to the point of traveling to warm-weather exhibition games, especially amid Chicago’s winters. Yet, at the same time, we wonder, wouldn’t that make the Cubs’ package more likely to make sense financially without public subsidy? After all, the private sector has gotten this public discussion to this stage — without any outward signs of a bidding war with Mesa, Ariz., where the Cubs train now.
Tourist-tax funding, we agree, would be nice. Still, people who favor expenditures for parks, beach renourishment and museums would say tourist-tax funding would be nice for their pet projects too.
Then we survey the landscape for some of the community’s major new development projects. We do not recall any tax subsidies for the town or university at Ave Maria, the construction of Naples Botanical Garden or the Children’s Museum of Naples, or even the Daily News’ new headquarters on Immokalee Road.
We think it would be nice to have the Cubs here. Even nicer, let’s talk business — starting with return on investment and who should be investing.