Fasano's $60-million jersey
"It's the $60-million jersey," the New Port Richey Republican cracked, alluding to the Rays' quest for an additional $60-million in state money to pay for a waterfront stadium in St. Petersburg. (read all about that here.)
Fasano was quick to say he did not think the team was trying to butter him up, but he said the gift ban prevents accepting the jersey. "I'll have to find out what it cost and send them a check," said Fasano, a fan of the New York Mets. "It would be kind of rude to send it back. It's a very nice jersey."
According to the Rays' Web site, a replica jersey goes for $79.99, but customized versions (of the old design) are $99.99. Shipping bumps the cost to $104.97. Some lawmakers also got a ballcap. (The team, however, said the jerseys cost $43 and caps were $10.)
Buzz now finds out that other Tampa Bay delegation members got uniforms, including Sen. Charlie Justice, D-St. Petersburg, and Rep. Ed Hooper, R-Clearwater. "Mine's still hanging in the plastic in my office until I find out if they have a lobbyist or not," Hooper said. As for paying for one, he's not so sure about shelling out up to $100. "I don't want one that bad."
Rays executives are leaning toward hiring of the state's most powerful lobbyists, Brian Ballard, to increase the team's presence in Tallahassee.
Justice said he plans to pay for it. "I think the new logo is kind of cool, although I was sort of sad to see them move away from the sting ray and aquatic theme. And if we're going down by the water with the new stadium, that would be very appropriate."
Justice noted that in the "old" pre-gift ban days, the Miami delegation used to get sports jerseys with their name on it all the time. And theirs were framed.
"If a jersey influences my vote, I’m a pretty sad legislator," said Rep. Rick Kriseman, D-St. Petersburg. "I think (the Rays) are reaching out in ways that prior management never did. I think it’s smart even if they aren’t building a stadium. I can't imagine they would be naive enough to think they could influence us that way."
Rays spokesman Rick Vaughn said: "We gave out hundreds of jerseys to season ticket holders, sponsors, media and community leaders so they could share in the excitement of the launch of the Rays new image. Legislators were among them because our understanding of the law is that they can accept them.”