Should we consider privatizing Kirkland’s ballpark, Lee Johnson Field, and Peter Kirk Pool? I say yes.
Privatization can mean management contracts to run the facilities, concessions, leasing or even selling. If sold, a covenant could be included requiring that they stay a ballpark and pool.
The old school concession at Lee Johnson Field, with the best onion burgers in town by the way, closes on July 31. Isn’t that weird? If the park were fully privatized, I’d wager it would stay open all summer, into the fall and maybe beyond.
Same for the city pool. It opens late, June 4, and closes on Labor Day in September.
If it were privatized – that is, profit motive incentivised by letting it be run by private business owners, not the city – I’d bet we see much longer hours, say April through October. With privatization we might see adult swim nights, diving nights, singles night, disco swim … We might see it open all year with a roof or cover put over it during the winter. It might stay open until midnight. Such valuable assets shouldn’t go unused and be so seasonally dependent, if you ask me. With privatization, the underutilization of these resources would not happen. What might privatization look like? Maybe corporate naming rights and more ads. Maybe the Heathman Hotel could run the pool and the Marriott could run the ballpark? Or maybe Motel 6. Or maybe the baseball leagues could own the ballpark.
It’s certainly worth considering.
Jeff E. Jared is a Kirkland resident and attorney who writes from a libertarian and law & economics perspective.