TAMPA — The board of the Tampa Sports Authority on Monday selected Eric Hart as its new executive director, but not before a lengthy discussion about the terms of his contract.
At issue: whether to offer Hart up to $2,000 a month for five months for temporary housing.
Board members Jim Norman and Vincent Marchetti said they wanted to hire Hart, but objected to that perk.
"It's just a wrong move by this authority," said Norman, a Hillsborough County commissioner.
Hart will be paid $170,000 a year for the job that largely involves managing Raymond James Stadium and three public golf courses. He also will receive a $500-a-month car allowance and up to $12,500 to move his family from Lansing, Mich., to Tampa.
Norman argued that taxpayers who bankroll Hart's salary would be outraged by the temporary housing allowance at a time when unemployment and foreclosures are on the rise.
Other board members, though, argued that temporary housing payments are a common component of executive pay packages.
The board voted without dissent to hire Hart.
In a separate vote, the board approved the temporary housing allowance, with Norman and Marchetti voting against it.
Since 2005, Hart, 42, has served as president and chief executive officer of the Lansing Entertainment and Public Facilities Authority. The public agency oversees the Lansing Center, a 200,000-square-foot convention center, and Oldsmobile Park, a minor league ballfield.
Hart replaces Henry Saavedra, who resigned in March after coming under fire about his management style.
After the meeting, Hart said he thinks it will take more than five months to sell his Michigan home.
"I'm probably going to be sitting on that real estate for quite some time," he said.
Janet Zink can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3401.