As the Rays revealed their dream ballpark with hopes to make Tampa a baseball destination in the future, it came with a hefty price tag. A price tag of almost a billion dollars.
Rays team president Brian Auld said the team doesn't have answers as to how they will fund the dream, and Jon Tayler at Sports Illustrated says the public should not be on the hook for millions.
The modern stadium in historical Ybor City can result in the same future for residents of other cities who have completed new ball parks in the past decade. Tayler said the projects in Washington D.C., New York, Minneapolis, Miami and Atlanta have caused taxpayers to hand over money to "absurdly rich owners, all whom cried poor when time came to pay," while they could have improved local infrastructure or better salaries for civil servants.
Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg said he expects the team to contribute more than $150 million toward the $892 million ball park.
Private financing and local businesses will unlikely bring in more than a few hundred million, says Tayler, which can leave about as much as half a billion to the county.
The city is funding transportation and education departments and trying to trim its budget by more than $31 million in the upcoming year. Tayler said Tampa will likely not receive any help from the state, which has stated its opposition to the public funding of stadiums, acknowledging the more than one billion dollars hanging over Miami after the Marlins park.
Auld proposed that the Ybor City stadium will serve as a year-round park and facility for residents, turning a ball park pitch into a community pitch, but Tayler said the theory has been proven wrong and there is "no financial justification for sinking taxpayer money into athletic facilities."
Even though Forbes lists the team's worth as nearly a billion dollars, and the Rays' TV deal has them reeling in $82 million a year over the next 15 years, their payroll is just $91 million. With their failure to invest in their roster, Tayler questions whether the franchise deserves the public's investment.
Tropicana Field limits the team's ability to compete and their attendance is consistently low in the league, and relocation to Ybor City in a smaller, more intimate stadium is sparking interest in fans, but according to Tayler, the stadium's progress should not rely on the public's pockets.