Saturday, October 20, 2018
Opinion

Daniel Ruth: The search for cash for a new Rays stadium

All those sugar plum fairies were very nice while they lasted. Now it's time to cue the bean counter ballet.

For many months, we've been witness to the great Tampa Bay Rays stadium saga. Should they stay in St. Petersburg? Or should they go eastward? On both sides of Tampa Bay, the hotsy-tots of St. Petersburg and Tampa have ruminated and chin-rubbed and pondered over potential sites for a new home for the Rays.

Name a locale, and it has probably been considered at some point as a peachy perch for the Rays. At this rate, Fort Lonesome cannot be entirely ruled out.

Of course, there have been all manner of renderings suggesting what a new stadium might look like. And if Tampa Bay is good at anything, it is cranking out finger paintings of dreams. It's been all very nice.

We can probably assume that anyone who claims to know how this will end is more delusional than Elmer Fudd believing he has Bugs Bunny right where he wants him.

No matter how lovely a future splotch of land might be for the Rays, or how beautiful a new stadium might appear on paper, sooner or later, somebody needs to figure out a way to pay for it. And since a spiffy stadium is expected to cost somewhere between a gazillion and a bazillion dollars — and 37 cents, a big chuck of that somewhere is invariably going to be shouldered by you.

In recent days, Tampa Bay Times reporters Mark Puente, Charlie Frago and Steve Contorno explored the potential financing possibilities on both sides of the bay.

In Hillsborough, financing options run the gamut, including creating an entertainment district around any new stadium that could dip into a percentage of sales to help underwrite a new ol' ball park. Imposing a new tax on rental cars is on the table. Adding a surcharge to ticket sales and selling off development rights is a possibility.

Then, of course, there is the old classic standby of panhandling the Florida Legislature to cough up about $2 million a year, for the next 30 years.

The one option that you probably won't hear very much about is a Community Investment Tax scheme, which was used more than 20 years ago to pay for Helloooooo Sucker Stadium, the home of the National Football League's Fighting Marigolds of Dale Mabry.

That debacle paved the way for the team's owner, the late Malcolm Glazer and his bouncing bundles of joy, Stop and Frisk, to enjoy one of the great sweetheart deals almost anywhere in sports, where the public was on the hook for every expense and the Glazers got to keep almost all of the revenue.

At first blush, it might seem St. Petersburg's fortunes for keeping the team in the city would be enhanced for the simplest of reasons. The city already owns the vast expanse of land where Tropicana Field sits. A new stadium on the site could possibly be financed with help from a tax increment financing district that includes the Tropicana site and the downtown waterfront.

But St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman already is hitting up Pinellas County for additional money to bolster the dubious Pier project. The Pinellas County Commission isn't exactly warming to the idea of throwing even more money from tax increment financing to finance a new stadium.

County Administrator Mark Woodard has asked for more details from Kriseman on who would pay for what in building a new Rays stadium. Woodard is still waiting for a response.

Meanwhile, the beans of time continue to flow.

Comments
Editorial notebook: Times editorial writers reminisce about Sears

Editorial notebook: Times editorial writers reminisce about Sears

Sharing memories of the “wish book,” shopping on Saturday nights and many memorable purchases
Published: 10/19/18

Editorial: FBI should take a hard look at CareerSource

The scrutiny now extends to the state agency that oversees the local jobs centers
Published: 10/19/18
Editorial: Toughen Florida’s building code

Editorial: Toughen Florida’s building code

Experts are right that Hurricane Michael should force a review of Florida’s building standards. While newer homes generally fared better than older ones, the state needs to reassess the risks posed by high winds and storm surge.
Published: 10/19/18
Editorial: Those who fail to cast ballots in Hillsborough are running out of excuses

Editorial: Those who fail to cast ballots in Hillsborough are running out of excuses

You wouldn't skip a trip to the gas pump, would you?Then don't miss the chance to cast your general election ballot, either, when Hillsborough County opens its many early voting sites Monday morning for a two-week engagement.If you do your homework a...
Published: 10/19/18

Editorial: Glazer Children’s Museum quickly regained its step

Jennifer Stancil was terminated from her $169,280 a year job last month as museum president and chief executive, a post she held for three years. Exactly why remained a mystery to those outside the museum.
Published: 10/18/18
Updated: 10/19/18
Editorial: Trump should demand Saudis account for journalist

Editorial: Trump should demand Saudis account for journalist

Twenty-seven journalists have been murdered so far this year just for doing their jobs, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. That number doesn’t even include Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi dissident journalist who hasn’t been ...
Published: 10/17/18
Updated: 10/19/18
Editorial: Restart selection process for Florida Supreme Court justices

Editorial: Restart selection process for Florida Supreme Court justices

The Florida Supreme Court reached the right conclusion by ruling that the next governor has the authority to appoint three new justices to the court rather than departing Gov. Rick Scott. That is practical and reasonable, and it reflects the will of ...
Published: 10/16/18
Updated: 10/19/18

Editorial: Housecleaning was necessary at Clearwater parks department

The theft of money and a hostile atmosphere show a city department out of control
Published: 10/15/18
Updated: 10/19/18
Editorial: Bilirakis mimics Trump, colleagues in misleading voters

Editorial: Bilirakis mimics Trump, colleagues in misleading voters

U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis wants voters to believe he is different than his Republican colleagues in Congress and President Donald Trump. The Palm Harbor Republican says he pays more attention to local issues than to the president, claims he doesnȁ...
Published: 10/15/18
Updated: 10/16/18
Editorial: Answering questions about Hillsborough school tax

Editorial: Answering questions about Hillsborough school tax

The Hillsborough County school tax on the Nov. 6 ballot is a smart, necessary investment in the nation's eighth-largest school system. The 10-year, half-penny sales tax would create stronger, safer schools and a healthier learning environment for mor...
Published: 10/12/18
Updated: 10/19/18