Saturday, May 26, 2018
Opinion

Ruth: Developer's idea for Rays stadium at Channelside laughable

Whew! For a moment there I thought all that misbehavior from my college years was kicking in to induce some truly surreal flashbacks.

A flamboyant developer suddenly shows up and proposes a truly insane idea to transform the Channelside entertainment complex hinterland into a new home for the Tampa Bay Rays.

Was it possible I was having a Socco Babacus moment?

Longtime Tampa residents will remember Socco, who floated into town back in 1996, promising to build a new stadium for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with his own money. Who does things like that?

Socco claimed to be a poor humble Greek bazillionaire from the Boston area, who had more ditzy ideas than common sense. On his frequent trips to Tampa he would often call to get together for lunch to show me his latest blueprint collection.

On one of his visits, I thought it might be a good idea if he met the Bombshell of the Balkans, who is fluent in Greek. Things did not go well.

The Marigold of Macy's attempted to converse in Athenian with Socco, who looked like a deer in the headlights. As it turned out, his Greek was probably worse than mine. And then there was this.

"He's not even Greek," the Sunflower of Saks sniffed. "Macedonian probably. He has blue eyes." Ah, beware of Macedonians bearing baloney.

So there was developer Joel Cantor with an idea to raze Channelside and replace it with a 33,000-seat stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays.

And yes, those were gales of laughter resonating across the city, which probably explains why the stadium idea might well have some legs. After all, Tampa is the place where crazy ideas go to mate.

Of course the whole Rays stadium gold rush is beginning to gain traction because: a) the team currently resides in the major-league equivalent of a double-wide and b) St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster's idea of negotiating with the Rays pretty much begins and ends with holding his breath.

So it is that others have stepped into the chasm between Foster's ears to offer ideas of their own to find a new place for grown men to spit and scratch themselves in unfortunate places.

There is one concept afoot to build a Rays palace in the greater Gateway area of Pinellas County. But to make that plan work it seems the team would have to share office and parking space with thousands of commuters. And thus game days could resemble the mass, chaotic evacuation scenes in Independence Day.

Enter Cantor. The developer would demolish Channelside and in its old footprint install the House That Too Much Vermouth Built. Well, at least someone is trying to think big. No harm in that.

But Cantor has a couple problems pulling off his Rays shuffle.

Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik is supposedly very close to finalizing a deal to purchase and renovate Channelside. And though I have no idea of Cantor's net worth, it's probably not unreasonable to assume he does not want to get into a checkbook contest with the deep-pocketed Vinik.

As well, the Tampa Port Authority board also needs to approve any Channelside deal. And that laugh track hasn't stopped since Cantor unveiled his idea.

Still, until Foster realizes pouting is not a negotiating tactic, these trial balloons are going to continue to float over Tampa Bay, waiting, yearning, panting for the next Socco Babacus to book a flight to town.

Comments
Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still canít stop bad judgment

Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still canít stop bad judgment

Itís human nature in following any tragedy to imagine: How could this have been prevented? On that score, the city of Tampa responded appropriately to the deaths this week of a mother and her toddler whom police say were hit by a teenage driver racin...
Published: 05/25/18
Editorial: Filling Rocky Point lagoon to build townhomes is an empty-headed idea

Editorial: Filling Rocky Point lagoon to build townhomes is an empty-headed idea

One of the worst ideas in a long time in the field of urban planning received a blessing this month when the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission approved a land-use change for a project that calls for filling three acres of water insi...
Published: 05/25/18
Editorial: Searching for the real Adam Putnam

Editorial: Searching for the real Adam Putnam

Send out an Amber Alert for Adam Putnam. The red-haired, affable fellow who has served capably as a state legislator, member of Congress and agriculture commissioner is missing. In his place is a far-right caricature who has branded himself as a prou...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18
Editorial: A strong economic case for restoring voting rights for felons

Editorial: A strong economic case for restoring voting rights for felons

Floridians are paying a steep price for a system that makes it as difficult as possible for people who leave prison to reintegrate into civic life. Gov. Rick Scottís clemency process isnít just archaic and cruel ó it also wastes enormous public resou...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18
Editorial: Trump right to cancel North Korea talks on nuclear weapons

Editorial: Trump right to cancel North Korea talks on nuclear weapons

Regardless of the reason, the cancellation of the U.S.-North Korea summit to address Pyonyangís nuclear program is hardly the worst possible outcome of this high-stakes diplomatic gamble. President Donald Trump was unprepared, North Koreaís Kim Jong ...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18

NFL kneels before the altar of profits

The owners of the 32 National Football League teams sent a wrongheaded and, frankly, un-American message to their players Wednesday: Expressing your opinion during the national anthem is no longer permitted."A club will be fined by the League if its ...
Published: 05/24/18

Editorial: A positive first step in ensuring student access at USFSP

As a task force sorts out countless details involved in folding the University of South Florida St. Petersburg back into the major research university based in Tampa, ensuring access for good Pinellas students remains a concern. An enhanced cooperati...
Published: 05/23/18
Updated: 05/25/18
Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Legislation that waters down the 2010 Dodd-Frank law and was sent to President Donald Trump this week is a mixed bag at best. Some provisions recognize that Congress may have gone too far in some areas in the wake of the Great Recession to place new ...
Published: 05/23/18
Updated: 05/24/18
Editorial: Honoring our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day

Editorial: Honoring our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day

The rising tensions with Iran, the resurgence of violence in the Mideast and the uncertainty over a nuclear disarmament deal with North Korea combine to create an unsettling time this Memorial Day. These grave threats to peace are another reminder of...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/25/18

Another voice: The chutzpah of these men

A new phase of the #MeToo movement may be upon us. Call it the "not so fast" era: Powerful men who plotted career comebacks mere months after being taken down by accusations of sexual misconduct now face even more alarming claims.Mario Batali, the ce...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/23/18