Baseball lying in grass
Patrick Ishmael

Back in 2015, we wrote about (and Salvy-splashed some cold water on) an Ozarks project that aimed to build a baseball resort in one of the state's most popular tourism regions. Our concern wasn't the nature of the project itself; I love baseball and would probably enjoy a baseball-themed vacation. The problem was that the project developers were trying to get taxpayers to shell out millions to defray the costs of their private endeavor.

Now, two years on, the land the project was supposed to be built on just got foreclosed on and sold off. Cue ironic "Field of Dreams" reference.

The property was sold last Thursday in a foreclosure sale after several months of speculation about the project.

The sale included two parcels of land totaling 293 acres on Camping Paradise Road in Macks Creek under development with original plans that developers described as the “ultimate experience” for youth baseball. Long range plans called for facilities for lacrosse, football, field hockey and soccer.

That 293-acre sale appears to capture every last inch of the Ballparks of the Ozarks development plan, which contemplated the project sitting on—you guessed it—293 acres. Maybe the developers will try to repurchase the land from the buyer. Maybe they'll move the project. And maybe the project is simply dead. Per our friends at KRMS

according to Presiding Commissioner Greg Hasty, funding for the grandiose project has apparently dried up effectively killing it and taking with it an expected 100 jobs that were to be created to operate the complex.

Yet in the months leading up to the foreclosure of the property, the Ballparks of the Ozarks developers were still seeking tax money. The county had even signed off on at least some of those local incentive proposals as recently as this year. According to the Kirksville Daily Express,

A Community Improvement District had been approved for the venue in January of [2017] by the Camden County Commission. Developers announced in June they would be looking at the formation of a Transportation Development District.

It's a multi-layered, stinky onion of tax incentive attempts. Tax credits. A CID. A TDD. And yet apparently none of it was enough to attract the private investment required to keep the project sound and solvent.

I think a baseball resort could succeed in the Ozarks, but if it was going to work, it should have always been at the risk of private investors, not taxpayers.

About the Author

Patrick Ishmael
Director of Government Accountability

Patrick Ishmael is the director of government accountability at the Show-Me Institute.