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A primer on the Tampa Bay Rays' deal

With so much talk about the Tampa Bay Rays' plan to build a $450-million waterfront stadium, it can be hard to remember what's behind the dollars and cents of the proposed deal. A new Times blog, Ballpark Frankness, also will aim to keep you updated on the latest news at


Lingering question Rays
Bottom line
Money owed on Tropicana Field

Total local debt today: $89.6-million

Total local debt when new stadium would open (2012): $35.8-million to
Three local government bonds are still being repaid for the construction of Tropicana Field. This year those payments total $9.8-million, with Pinellas County paying $5-million and the city contributing the rest. Who will pay the debt remaining on Tropicana Field if a new
stadium is built?
The Tropicana developer should pay off the debt on the stadium. The city is now negotiating
prospective deals with two developers interested in purchasing
Tropicana Field.
What the Rays want
to pay
Team contribution to stadium construction:

How it's paid: Up front, onetime contribution by the Rays
The team originally said it would make $10-million a year in rent payments to cover its share of the construction, one-third of the overall cost. It now plans to make the contribution up front. The Rays currently pay about $1-million in rent (through ticket sales) to the city. Will the Rays pay rent at a new stadium? The team is open to paying rent. The team currently gives a part of ticket revenues to the city. The city now pays the property insurance bill for Tropicana Field
($2-million in 2008). The city may be able to unload those costs if it is willing to forgo a percentage of ticket sales.
Tropicana Field
Offers: $60-million to $65-million The sale and redevelopment is supposed to generate at least $303-million in new tax revenues, more than the public costs associated with building the new stadium, the Rays say. But the estimates do not necessarily factor in the cost to demolish Tropicana Field or other potential problems on the site. What if the redevelopment does not meet the developer's projections? Tropicana Field will better serve taxpayers if it's placed back on the city's tax rolls. The city says it will attempt to mitigate any risk associated with the development, but whether a
developer will agree to the city's terms is still unclear.
Public stadium share: At least

County/city split: County $100-million; city $75-million.
The Rays are asking the city and county to extend the payments they are now making at Tropicana Field an additional 25 to 30 years to finance a new ballpark. Should the city and county count land
values as part of their share of the cost?
The city and county won't pay an additional dollar before 2017. Using county money means the Pinellas County Commission also must sign off on any financing
The fine print Parking: The Rays want to buy as many as 2,500 empty city parking spaces on game nights to sell to season ticket holders.

Lease: The Rays' lease at Tropicana Field expires in 2027. The team couldn't leave without at least paying off any remaining debt on the dome. Most debt expires in 2016.
The city has lost
$26.7-million since it began operating
Tropicana Field in 1990. The losses likely will continue as long as the Rays keep playing there.
Could a new lease save the city money in the long run? The Rays say the team has no intention of leaving St. Petersburg if plans for a new stadium are not approved. A new stadium on the waterfront requires a city referendum. Other potential locations would not.

A primer on the Tampa Bay Rays' deal 05/11/08 [Last modified: Sunday, May 18, 2008 10:57pm]
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