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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Larry Williams is pro baseball stadium



ST. PETERSBURG-- Mayoral hopeful and former council member Larry Williams says St. Petersburg needs the Tampa Bay Rays.

Here's a letter he recently sent to the St. Petersburg Times about it:

Let me make my position on this issue very clear:
Number 1: The ‘RAYS’ need to stay in St. Petersburg.
Number 2: I like Tropicana Field and would be hopeful that the Trop could be updated  in order to accomplish the needs of our taxpayers and the team.
Number 3: If a new stadium is needed in order to keep this team in St. Petersburg, we should build a new stadium.  My first choice: The existing Tropicana site. My next choice: Any feasible site, as long as it is in St. Petersburg. 

After many years of hard work and sacrifices by our citizens;
Any site outside St. Petersburg---Is not acceptable!!!

Additionally, I have provided my opinion as to why baseball is critically important to St. Petersburg:         


It is without question, and clearly can be demonstrated, that the impact of baseball in St. Petersburg and the surrounding area is dramatic.  Whether you are a fan or not, baseball has created and continues to provide and ensure jobs, produce substantial financial benefits to the community and provide a very positive exposure for our city.  Last September and October, newspapers, televisions, radios, computers and whatever media gathering source we use, was centered on St. Petersburg for the playoffs and World Series.  We were privileged to have everyone world wide see St. Petersburg, not only as the beautiful city we see and appreciate, but as a destination as a “BIG LEAGUE CITY”.  St. Petersburg is one of only 28 cities in this country that has something uniquely special; a “Major League” baseball team.  I think that is a ‘BIG DEAL’, and certainly the events of last September and October demonstrated that.  The “WHOLE WORLD” recognizes this event.  Fan or not, St. Petersburg is in the “BIG LEAGUES” and that is a “BIG DEAL”.

St. Petersburg is the most visited city by the visiting baseball team’s families and friends. Those visiting teams families and friends come for our home stands, visit our beaches, the surrounding attractions, events and venues.
The Rays and businesses within the community affiliated with or providing services to the Rays and/or Major League Baseball, accounts for approximately 3000 jobs.  The part-time Police, Fire/EMS services, the moving companies, the additional staffing at our hotels and restaurants of waitresses, bus persons, cleaning services, administrative personnel, bus transportation personnel, limo drivers, airport personnel, etc. are all part of services and jobs that are existing due to MLB being in St. Petersburg.
In 2008, 1.2 MILLION visitors came from outside Pinellas County to visit St. Petersburg to see a baseball game.  Those visitors coming from outside Pinellas, lodged at our local hotels or spent overnights with friends and relatives that live here.  In addition to lodging, monies were spent on food, gas, entertainment, etc.  Monies from these visitors, coming to see a baseball game, generated approximately $107,000,000 in hotel stays, plus another $60-65,000,000 generated from food, gas, entertainment, etc., totaling $167,000,000.  Additionally, by applying the Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) consultant’s formula, including affiliated and service providers mentioned above and the impact formula used in that research, the financial impact statistic reaches a staggering $298,000,000.
MLB teams are now flying into and out of the St. Petersburg Clearwater Airport, instead of TIA, an impact to ‘employment’ section above.  Majority of the MLB teams travel with 60 persons, including players, coaches and staff.  That requires an average of 60 hotel stays for the visiting teams for the number of home games (80-84) @ a rate of $160 per night, per person ($806,400). In addition, there is a per diem allowance for food of $90 per day, adding another $453,600 of monies by the visiting team.  Not accounted for in this information, is any amount the visiting team may spend for additional entertainment, rental cars, limo, golfing, fishing, etc.
With a financial impact of approximately $300,000,000 plus to our city, it is easy to determine that baseball is good for St. Petersburg, while additionally promoting a very beautiful positive image for our city.  Therefore, it would seem easy to say: St. Petersburg is in the “BIG LEAGUES” and it is a very “BIG DEAL” to keep baseball in St. Petersburg and as your Mayor, I will put forth every effort and pursue every reasonable resource, inclusive of being prudent with any of your tax dollars, to keep the ‘RAYS’ in St. Petersburg.

We plan to fact check these numbers and get something in the newspaper on it soon.

Cristina Silva, Times staff writer

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 12:02pm]


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