Thursday, December 14, 2017
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: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Timing is everything, and Sen. Bill Nelson seized the right moment this week to call on his colleagues to pass legislation he filed earlier this year that would block the Trump administration from opening additional areas to offshore drilling. With t...
Published: 12/13/17

Another voice: Alabama picks an honorable man

THANK YOU, Alabama.In Tuesdayís special election, the state by a narrow margin chose to spare the nation the indignity of seating an accused child molester in the U.S. Senate. Though the stain of electing Republican Roy Moore would have sullied Alaba...
Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/13/17
Editorial: Tax cuts arenít worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts arenít worth harm to Tampa Bay

As congressional negotiators hammer out the details on an enormous, unnecessary tax cut, the potential negative impact on Tampa Bay and Florida is becoming clearer. The harmful consequences stretch far beyond adding more than $1.4 trillion to the fed...
Published: 12/12/17

Another voice: Privacy in the internet age

How much information about you is on your cellphone? Likely the most intimate details of your life: photographs, internet searches, text and email conversations with friends and colleagues. And though you might not know it, your phone is constantly c...
Published: 12/10/17
Updated: 12/11/17
Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Confronted with documentation of sanctioned brutality and sexual abuse in Floridaís juvenile detention centers, the reaction from Gov. Rick Scottís administration was defensive and obtuse. So itís welcome news that Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/11/17

Editorial: U.S. House sides with NRA over stateís rights on concealed weapons permits

With the horror of the mass shootings at a Las Vegas country music concert and a small Texas church still fresh, the U.S. House finally has taken action on guns. But the bill it passed last week wonít make Americans safer from gun violence. It is an ...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

There is no satisfaction for anyone in the standoff over pay raises between the Hillsborough County School District and its teachers. Most teachers across the nation already are underpaid, but this district simply cannot afford the raises teachers ex...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

With a buildout of $3 billion encompassing entire city blocks, itís obvious that Jeff Vinikís plans will change the look and feel of downtown Tampa. But the Tampa Bay Lightning owner unveiled a broader vision last week that reflects how far the impac...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17
Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

It is dangerous and illegal to text while driving in Florida, and police should be able to pull over and ticket those lawbreakers without witnessing another violation first. House Speaker Richard Corcoran has lent his powerful voice to legislation th...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Editorial: Outsourcing common sense on St. Petersburg Pier naming rights

St. Petersburg officials predict that selling the naming rights to parts of the new Pier could generate $100,000 in annual revenue. But first the city wants to pay a consultant to tell it how and to whom to sell the rights. Why do city officials need...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17