The Tampa Bay area's three major league sports teams have pledged their financial support in moving a Confederate monument out of downtown Tampa.
A joint statement released by the Tampa Bay Rays, Buccaneers and Lightning says that "this monument does not reflect the values of our community" and that all three organizations have "dedicated funds to assist in moving the statue from the public space" in front of the old Hillsborough County courthouse.
A joint statement from the Buccaneers, Lightning and Rays: pic.twitter.com/A825Lj0a1M— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@TBBuccaneers) August 17, 2017
In a divisive 4-2 vote Wednesday, county commissioners gave fundraisers 30 days to collect $140,000, about half of what's needed to relocate the monument to a small family cemetery in Brandon. If they couldn't raise it, the monument would stay outside the old county courthouse in downtown Tampa.
Fundraisers appeared to surpass that goal on Thursday when Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce Chairman Mike Griffin announced a $70,000 donation, which would push the campaign over its goal when coupled with a $50,000 donation from Tampa businessman and former Tampa Bay Storm owner Bob Gries and other grass roots fundraising.
Earlier Thursday, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach and Tampa resident Tony Dungy announced publicly today that he'd be contributing $5,000 to a fund to move the monument and said he challenged the Bucs Rays and Lightning to help.
Our County says private $$ must be raised to move Confederate statue. Lauren and I are in for $5K. We challenge Bucs Rays Lightning to help! pic.twitter.com/dGRd1BTFkp— Tony Dungy (@TonyDungy) August 17, 2017
The Buccaneers and Rays organizations had both previously said they supported removing the statue back in July, though the Lightning had declined to weigh in on the debate at that time.
As of 2:30 p.m., the Go Fund Me page that Dungy tweeted out had more than $50,000 in donations from close to 700 people.
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn posted to social media a picture of a signed check from him for $1,000 to the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners, and shared a link to the same Go Fund Me campaign.
Lightning wing J.T. Brown, one of only 30 African American players in the NHL, decided to get involved as well, donating $1,500 of his own money. Watching the violent protests in Charlottesville from his offseason home in Minneapolis, Brown said one of his first thoughts was how difficult it would be for him and his wife, Lexi, to explain to their eight-week-old daughter, Lily, why such a tragic event occurred.
"For me, that kind of re-motivated me to make sure I'm doing everything I can to make sure the community is a better place for her and everyone," Brown said.