Wednesday, August 15, 2018
Business

Vinik says Rays need to stay in Tampa Bay as a lure for economic development

The question came, as it typically does wherever Jeff Vinik speaks publicly, about midway through his appearance Friday morning at the Cafe con Tampa breakfast discussion group.

How, someone asked, does Vinik really feel about the prospect of a new Tampa Bay Rays baseball stadium near the $2 billion downtown development he plans around the home arena for his Tampa Bay Lightning?

And, as he has before, Vinik said less about the idea of having a competing venue nearby and more about what he sees as the economic development value and corporate recruiting necessity of keeping the Rays in the bay area.

"This is one of those questions where the stock, for-the-press response is the same as the actual response," Vinik said. "This region needs baseball. You can't have a big league area without big-league baseball. If we lose the Rays, when I fly up to New York or Connecticut to talk to a company (about moving here), I've got two strikes behind me: 'You guys can't even keep baseball in your community?' That's literally going to be the response."

Whether the Rays end up in Pinellas or Hillsborough does make a difference, Vinik acknowledged, but that's secondary. "To me, the most important thing is just making sure we retain this great community asset."

Beyond that, Vinik touched on familiar themes as he described the project he's undertaking with Cascade Investment, the capital fund launched by Microsoft founder Bill Gates. In creating a new downtown district on about 40 acres around Amalie Arena, it will be just as important to have bike paths, public art, programmed events 300 days a year, and ways to get there that don't rely on driving, such as an expanded trolley, as it will be to build hotels, office buildings and apartments.

"The soul of a community is about what happens on the street," he told more than 50 Tampa business executives, civic leaders and others at Hugo's Spanish Restaurant in South Tampa. As he and his partners are making plans, he said, what they're trying to do is create something that will arouse an emotional response: "I want to be in that place."

One thing that worries him: labor costs.

The first phase of the Vinik-Cascade project is estimated at $1.2 billion. Tampa International Airport has its own billion-dollar expansion under way. Port Tampa Bay is talking about a long-range $1.7 billion development of its own.

"Labor these days in construction is tight, and material costs are high, and that is something that we worry about." Vinik said. "We're not looking for shoot-the-lights out hedge-fund type returns. … What we're looking for is sustainable, long-term economic returns, and as costs go up you get squeezed a little bit, it makes it a little harder. You need a couple of extra dollars of rent. We can't price ourselves out of the market. We have to be able to have different price points. So one of the most significant worries we have is shortage of labor and cost of construction. It's in the top three of our worries."

Comments
TECO prepares to open solar farm in Balm

TECO prepares to open solar farm in Balm

BALM — Tampa Electric will open one of four new solar projects planned for Hillsborough County next month, with a goal of generating enough electricity for 12,000 homes in the area.TECO constructed its Balm Solar project on 548 acres in south Hillsbo...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Is the future of department stores off-price? Macy’s Backstage opens in Tampa

Is the future of department stores off-price? Macy’s Backstage opens in Tampa

TAMPA — Kishia Gainey pushes a blue shopping cart while eyeing a wall of shoes.The mother of four is back-to-school shopping at a Ross Dress for Less in a Citrus Park plaza. She’s already nabbed a pair of D.C. brand sneakers for her teen son that are...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Dining events: Bolts Brew Fest, Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month

Dining events: Bolts Brew Fest, Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month

BOLTS: BREW FESTI was going to list all the craft brewers whose wares will be on offer at 7 p.m. Friday at this year’s Bolts Brew Fest, a Tampa Bay Lightning benefit for the Humane Society of Tampa Bay. But with 50 local breweries alone, and another ...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Royal Caribbean will no longer allow emotional support animals on cruises

Royal Caribbean will no longer allow emotional support animals on cruises

In a recent policy change, international cruise line Royal Caribbean has announced it will not allow emotional support animals on its cruise ships effective immediately.The cruise line said emotional support animals, also known as therapy animals, we...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Tampa ranked third best city in U.S. to retire; St. Petersburg is 23rd

Tampa ranked third best city in U.S. to retire; St. Petersburg is 23rd

Tampa Bay has been named one of the best places for people to retire in the United States, according to a new ranking by credit-monitoring website WalletHub .The financial advice website released its ranking after comparing data collected from more ...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Retail sales rising at strong clip

Retail sales rising at strong clip

Associated PressWASHINGTON — Americans shopped at a healthy pace in July, buying more cars, clothes and appliances, evidence that confident consumers are helping drive robust economic growth. Retail sales rose at a 0.5 percent annual rate in July, af...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Girl Scouts announce new gluten free cookie flavor

Girl Scouts announce new gluten free cookie flavor

Move over, Thin Mints — there’s a new cookie in town. And this one is gluten free.Girl Scouts of the USA announced a new flavor Monday. Available during the upcoming 2019 cookie season, Caramel Chocolate Chip "features rich caramel, semi-sweet chocol...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Tampa General ranked Florida’s second-best hospital in U.S. News study

Tampa General ranked Florida’s second-best hospital in U.S. News study

Tampa General Hospital was ranked as Florida’s second-best hospital in the U.S. News and World Report’s 2018 Hospital Rankings released Tuesday, while Moffitt Cancer Center was named the country’s eighth-best cancer hospital.The rankings, which analy...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Wells Fargo to close two Pinellas County banks as part of nationwide closure

Wells Fargo to close two Pinellas County banks as part of nationwide closure

Wells Fargo will close two of its branches in Pinellas County as part of a nationwide closure that reflects a continued shift toward online banking.The two branches — one in Redington Shores and one at the Dunedin Plaza — are the only ones in Tampa B...
Updated: 9 hours ago
State Vacuum and ‘Bernie Apestein’ may be waving goodbye to longtime location

State Vacuum and ‘Bernie Apestein’ may be waving goodbye to longtime location

For nearly 40 years, while wearing an eclectic mix of fashion, a mechanical gorilla has stood outside State Vacuum of Tampa, waving hello to Kennedy Boulevard motorists.His name is Bernie Apestein. "That gorilla has been a mainstay" said David Epstei...
Updated: 11 hours ago