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Higher BLD entry fees just the start
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Want to see the impact of government decree versus that quaint old-school concept known as initiative?
Drop by the Manteca Big League Dreams complex after Aug. 1. Look into your wallet after you pay the entrance fee. It’ll be lighter by $2.
Yes, there is a lot of indignation being posted on social media about the coming rate increase. Too bad they weren’t doing the same when the California Legislature was moving toward the successful adoption of jacking up the minimum wage by 50 percent to $15 by 2022.
Those who embraced the decree are getting exactly what they asked for — higher prices.
BLD is essentially a labor intense service. There are umpires, scorekeepers, soda jockeys, cooks, grounds crews, operational staff, and ticket takers.
It is safe to say they aren’t exactly paid big wages. Minimum wage went from $9 to $10 on Jan, 1 of this year. It will now go up essentially $1 a year unit it reaches $15 in 2022.
There are some who argue that since tax dollars through the redevelopment agency were used to build the sports complex leased to BLD for 35 years it is blasphemy to raise rates.
It costs money to run organized adult sports leagues and maintain the facilities. Manteca charged admission at Northgate Softball Complex when city staff ran slow pitch leagues. You are also paying for the experience that is unique to BLD although founding partner Rick Oderkrik should be embarrassed about how his company failed in the upkeep department before taking steps to get their act together. He spent five years of his life to get the BLD deal with Manteca off the ground. One would think his son and other corporate folks would have paid a bit more attention to his legacy that is also the most successful and profitable of all complexes they operate.
Now that we’ve gotten the obligatory flogging out of the way to satisfy those who now want to question the successful private-public partnership because of a 66 percent admission hike, let’s remember a couple of things.
uBLD packs teams in because it is not your typical city operated softball complex.
uYou can count the number of indoor soccer arenas in the 209 on two hands and the ones owned by a city on one finger.
uCities — including Manteca — have a nasty habit of not raising rates high enough or soon enough to cover rising costs. Case in point is Manteca Golf Course where the council in the 1990s staved off green free increases staff and the golf pro said were needed and justified to cover costs because they didn’t want to irk golfers who vote. As a result the course siphoned off over $1 million in loans from the general fund that have been forgiven by the council and has a long list of capital improvement needs.
It was a given at various points in the 35-year lease that BLD would have to re-invest significantly into the complex just like the city would have had to do. Unlike the city, BLD can’t dip into a pool of tax dollars people have no choice but to pay.
That means part of the rate increase has nothing to do with minimum wage hikes. Rest assured, though, payroll as the largest expense, is the primary driver.
There are those who say hiking the minimum wage is the only way many people would make more money. That’s true if they don’t bother looking for better jobs, sharpen their skills or devote additional hours to a second or third job or start their own business.
The problem is when you elevate the ground floor you are ultimately elevating everything else above it including the price of goods and services.
We’ve been down this road before. There is a temporary bump in the economic well-being of those in minimum wage jobs. Ultimately that is all wiped out as minimum wage hikes put pressure on prices and other wages as well.
It will be different this time. That’s because there is an app for that.
Market disruption — a term that is overused and misused — has changed. The loss of jobs in the horse and carriage industries were replaced with many more requiring other skills to build, sell, and service automobiles.
Thanks to the technology smartphones has inspired plus the sharp rising payroll costs per employee for everything from minimum wage and mandated benefits to those who work 30 hours instead of the traditional 40 hours for fulltime work to health insurance and workmen’s compensation the know-how and cost advantage now exists to slice jobs. And instead of replacing them with another worker with different skill sets that is paid slightly more due to new skills that are needed, they are now essentially being replaced with an app. Nothing says good-bye minimum wage job than order pads at McDonald’s.
So what’s the solution? Try a healthy economy with upward mobility. It provides real, lasting economic gains for individuals instead of government decrees for employers to increase pay checks.
Back in the Dark Ages of the 1980s, Silicon Valley was going nuts trying to keep production workers whose loyalty could — and was — bought for 25 cents more an hour by a company down the street. It was a time when jobs went begging to be filled.
When we start making decent pay an entitlement regardless of whether it is an entry level, low-skill job or otherwise you run the real risk of sham economic growth that ultimately benefits no one.
That said, go ahead and start enjoying the first fruit being created with jacking up the minimum wage. It won’t be too longer until an apple you eat costs $5 each as well.


This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at or 209.249.3519.