In wide-ranging interview, John Sykes renews appeal for regional approach on big issues
Wake up and good morning. Long-time business entrepreneur and philanthropist, Tampa resident John Sykes, offered an extensive interview recently at his offices attached to his own JHS hangar (complete with his two Gulfstream jets) on the edge of Tampa International Airport. Here's a story in the St. Petersburg Times about that interview. But one thing I did not mention in the newspaper story was Sykes mentioning the need to have a better way to structure and fund regional assets.
Consider the Tampa Bay Rays. The team is obviously fishing for a new stadium and location, and several spots -- from Gateway/Carillon in Pinellas County to downtown Tampa -- have been suggested. Sykes, who's big on common sense, says regional assets like the Rays should be funded (to the extent there is public funding at all) by regional, multi-county dollars and not just by one city (like overstretched St. Petersburg) or county (like Pinellas). If Tampa Bay wants a Major League Baseball team, then Tampa Bay needs to help fund it.
Sykes says he is not suggesting an overhaul of area government, or the creation of some regional entity. But he is urging greater cooperation and load sharing by the greater Tampa Bay area for those major assets we say we want to keep and can better afford as one region rather than as so many fiefdoms.
This is not the first time Sykes has raised this idea. But again, the's hitting on one of the key impediments to Tampa Bay's regional progress -- a metro area split among counties and many cities -- that lack the capacity and vision to work together more often on big issues. It seems Tampa Bay is nearing a tipping point where a lot more big ticket matters need to be decided on a regional basis -- and yes, with regional taxing authority -- if we want to compete on a larger stage.
(Sykes photo by Stephen J. Coddington of the St. Petersburg Times.)
-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist