Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

This had better be a really good deal for Trop site

Be wary of the man who urges an action in which he himself incurs no risk.

— Joaquin Setanti

(I dunno, some guy)

Between now and early August, St. Petersburg, the Tampa Bay Rays and the city's newly chosen developer for Tropicana Field need to make a really good deal, if the Rays are going to get a new baseball stadium on their first try.

The only things that matter now are the contracts.

This is not about whether St. Petersburg "wants to be a big-league city" or whether poopy old "naysayers" are in the way of "progress" or any other such rhetoric.

If the deal gets better, the idea still has a chance with the voters in November. Otherwise, it is no wonder some people already are talking about Plan B down the road.

At this moment, the city's dealings with the proposed buyer-developer of the Tropicana site, Archstone-Madison, consist of:

(1) Pretty drawings with no guarantees of anything yet.

(2) An offered price that doesn't even pay off the existing Tropicana debt.

Besides these issues, there are a couple of others that bear mentioning. The first of these is liability for tearing down Tropicana Field.

Again, we should not care that the city is "comfortable" that it will cost less than $5-million, which is all the developer will pay. What happens otherwise?

Secondly, despite the city's confident claim that any remaining environmental problems on the Trop site can be fixed for less than $100,000, that has to be nailed down too.

What will the contract say about future problems on the Tropicana site? Most of the site was not tested in the original dome construction in the 1980s, despite its past use for many industrial purposes. Who would pay for testing, cleanup and liability?

Let's say that all of this is routine contract stuff and no problem. We still have other sticking points.

The city ought to hold the Rays to their original rhetoric — that the public's share of the stadium debt will be covered by the new taxes that come from all the neat stuff to be built on the Tropicana site.

Why, then, shouldn't we write that into the contracts, with the other parties guaranteeing any shortfall?

It shouldn't cost them that much, if anything — we can call the difference "rent" — and it might be the magic bullet. The parties could then campaign on the idea that the new stadium will be, in essence, "free" to taxpayers.

Free! We make more than we spend! Now, that is a deal.

That is the big enchilada. After the Rays and/or developer make that major concession, they can then twist Mayor Rick Baker's arm on his demand for more parking, and he can go, ow, ow, okay, uncle.

Then the Rays give Baker some kind of concession on the team name. Not "St. Petersburg Rays," which is too parochial. Maybe "Florida Rays at St. Petersburg," once that team in Miami changes its name. Or something.

An ironclad deal. Guarantees from the developer. Guarantees the public's debt will be covered. Every contingency covered. All tied up with a nice bow.

It might still work.

But anything less, any open-ended risk to the taxpayers, is probably enough to kill a proposal that is already unpopular with most voters.

Good luck negotiating, y'all.

This had better be a really good deal for Trop site 06/21/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 25, 2008 11:52am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 4-year-old girl, man injured in Clearwater Beach boating crash


    A 4-year-old girl was airlifted with serious injuries after a personal watercraft she was riding on collided with a boat in the Intracoastal Waterway near Clearwater Beach just before 5 p.m. Saturday afternoon.

  2. Hernando Sheriff's Office identifies bank robber killed after chase, places 7 deputies on administrative leave


    Authorities have identified a bank robbery suspect fatally shot by Hernando County sheriff's deputies after a wild chase Friday in which the fleeing suspect rammed several patrol cars in Brooksville.

    Scott Michael Chamberlain, 44, died after a deputy-involved shooting Friday. The Hernando County Sheriff's Office said that Chamberlaine attempted to rob a bank before taking deputies on a pursuit. (Florida Department of Corrections)
  3. No. 12 FSU, freshman QB James Blackman struggle in 27-21 loss to N.C. State


    TALLAHASSEE — Whatever was left of No. 12 Florida State's College Football Playoff hopes suffered a massive, likely fatal, blow Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium.

    Florida State Seminoles wide receiver Nyqwan Murray (8) carries during the first quarter of the Florida State Seminoles game against the North Carolina State Wolfpack on September 23, 2017, at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla.  At the half, North Carolina State Wolfpack 17, Florida State Seminoles 10.
  4. Trump tells Warriors star Stephen Curry that White House visit is off


    SOMERSET, N.J. — Stephen Curry and President Donald Trump agree on one thing: The Golden State star is not going to the White House anytime soon.

    Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry poses for photos during NBA basketball team media day Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Oakland, Calif. [Associated Press]
  5. For starters: Rays at Orioles, facing another old friend in Jeremy Hellickson


    UPDATE, 3:29: Here is the Rays lineup, with Duda at 1B and Morrison the DH: