Friday, April 20, 2018
Opinion

Daniel Ruth: Glazers guffaw all the way to the bank

Oh, to dream the impossible dream!

But first a caution, dearest reader. Put down that coffee. Swallow. And perhaps a bib might be order. You have been duly warned. A major mess could be on the way.

Now let us begin.

Several Hillsborough County officials want Malcolm Glazer and his urchins, Wishy and Washy, to give up $12 million. Whew! That was some spit-take, Bunky. But I did advise clearing the deck before reading further. You have no one else to blame.

If you've been around these woods awhile, by now you remember the communitywide crisis of jockstraps that took place some 16 years ago when Tampa Bay Bucs owner Malcolm Glazer and his bouncing bundles of joy, Loosie and Goosie, threatened to leave our fair hamlet unless the citizenry coughed up money to build what would become Helloooooo Sucker Stadium for the Dandie Dinmont Terriers of Dale Mabry.

And of course, the body politic rolled over for the owner and his lads, Toil and Trouble, faster than a Nebraska Avenue two-bit gin joint chippie, agreeing to tax themselves to build the $300 million Teapot Dome Field.

It probably matters little that Glazer offered to pay for half of Three Card Monte Coliseum because nobody believed he would honor his word. And true to form, the elder Glazer has failed to pay for the past 16 years, perhaps the team's most consistent record.

But amid all the anguish over the Bucs' extortion of the public exchequer was language that put the taxpayer on the hook for $12 million for a "first-class NFL practice facility" for the Magpies of Dale Mabry, not that practicing has been a real big priority out at One Bucs Bunker.

Now perhaps from time to time you have driven past the Bucs complex on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and remarked: "You know, Mabel, that sure looks like a darn fine practice facility the Daffodils of Dale Mabry have there."

But you would be so very wrong. Sure there are lockers and weight rooms and training rooms and expansive fields for the Percy Dovetonsils of Dale Mabry to run and leap and block and tackle and pass and sometimes catch and kick — all the things football players try to hone in practice.

But in the parallel universe of Glazerworld, this is not really a practice facility, at least not the practice facility the owner and his tots, Spin and Marty, envisioned at the time the team was getting its Gypsy Roofer Stadium built.

And so the $12 million in public money continues to sit in the bank until the Bucs decide when and where to build a second practice facility. And that could take as long as 2028, when the current lease with the Miranda Rights of Dale Mabry expires.

Hillsborough County Commission Chairman Ken Hagan and county administrator Mike Merrill have suggested it would be a really swell thing, given the economic strains on the county, if the money simply reverted to legitimate public use like schools, parks and roads.

Isn't that precious? Isn't that cute? Isn't that delusional?

The probability that Malcolm Glazer and his kiddos, Mairzy Doats and Dozy Doats, would ever surrender a chance to glom on to a bus token, much less $12 million, has about as much chance of happening as Rosie O'Donnell becoming a Bucs cheerleader.

Or put another way, the Bucs will forgo the $12 million practice facility claim the day Malcolm Glazer steps up and pays for his promised half of DeLorean Motors Field.

Put that coffee down!

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