Monday, October 22, 2018
News Roundup

Hooper: Time to push the envelope in effort to build Rays stadium in Ybor

The Rays started employing a strategy of using relievers to start games when they sent Sergio Romo to the mound to face the Los Angeles Angels earlier this season.

Through criticism and occasional outright ridicule, they stuck with the plan. And they enter todayís game after the All-Star break sporting the best team ERA in Major League Baseball since that day.

Itís just another example of how the Rays have built on-field success by taking unique approaches.

Now, as the team seeks to find financing and community support for a proposed Ybor City stadium, its approach should be the same.

Legitimate issues have been raised about the proposal.

ē Will the corporate community purchase enough suites and season ticket packages to provide big dollars?

ē How will a ball park impact life in the areaís most important historic district?

ē Should we allow an $892 million effort to take precedence over more pressing needs?

ē Do the Rays and its ownership group really intend to make Tampa Bay its long-term home?

The answers to these questions can be complicated, but with ingenuity, solutions can be found. None of the issues, or other concerns people have raised, have to doom the project. Last weekís presentation of the stadium design should be a start, not an end.

As for corporate support, weíre clearly not a market that can call upon a handful of home-run hitting Fortune 100 companies to tote the load for everyone. Yet just like the team strives to win games with pitching and defense while manufacturing runs, perhaps civic leaders can find 20 to 30 mid-size businesses to string together, producing "singles" and "doubles."

Can it come up with enough? Letís find out.

The impact on Ybor? How about a community compact, signed by all involved, that would contain protections for independent businesses, assurances that property values wouldnít skyrocket and a plan for residents who might end up displaced?

As for bigger community needs, I definitely think education and transportation rate higher, but instead of pitting the priorities against each other, could the Raysí new stadium be a catalyst for support?

Stick with me on this one.

Everyone talks about how the Bucs reaped the benefits of a sweetheart deal from the tax initiative that funded the construction of Raymond James Stadium. What you hear less about is how the Community Investment Tax has helped fund an array of projects over the years while providing important support for police and fire.

And it would have never passed without inclusion of the stadium proposal.

Such a tax initiative canít gain public approval in todayís political climate, but that doesnít mean a unique approach couldnít pay dividends for the community. Consider this: Florida State University and the University of Florida gained state dollars for their football stadiums by building classrooms and offices into the structures.

Could we do the same here? What if the Rays built school district offices into its stadium, possibly allowing the district to sell its valuable downtown real estate and use the money to address its current budget deficits?

Crazy? Stupid? Impossible? Maybe. Even probably. But they said the same thing when Romo took the mound. They said the same thing when former manager Joe Maddon printed up T-shirts that said "9 equals 8" en route to the World Series.

There always will be naysayers who dismiss every idea and every project with cynicism. But the possibilities deserve to be explored along with every other out-of-the-box suggestion.

The Rays bring an intrinsic value to Tampa Bay, but the right deal could bring back tangible returns while helping the team find a new home. For now, I trust the team is sincere and not leveraging us for a move.

If it is, too bad for them. This community can survive without baseball, and after itís all said and done, we may end up rooting for the Portland Rays. But with the opportunity before us, letís play to win without losing sight of our community needs.

Thatís all Iím saying.

Comments
World Series: Red Sox will give Dodgers early dose of lefties

World Series: Red Sox will give Dodgers early dose of lefties

BOSTON — The Red Sox feel going with two lefties to start the World Series against the Dodgers is the right move.With LHP Chris Sale over the stomach issues he still, smirkingly, says were caused by a belly button ring and set to start Tuesday ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Romano: Cops should get body cameras before cell phones get them

Romano: Cops should get body cameras before cell phones get them

Itís happened again. Another snippet of video. Another Florida cop being questioned.This time, itís in Coral Springs, and the cop is punching the midsection of a 14-year-old girl who is pinned on the ground with two cops above her, and her hands unde...
Updated: 1 hour ago
World Series: Dodgers manager Dave Roberts remains a Red Sox hero

World Series: Dodgers manager Dave Roberts remains a Red Sox hero

BOSTON — The Dodgers already had plenty to yell about, and to toast, when they gathered in the bar of Milwaukee's Pfister Hotel late Saturday to continue the celebration of their National League championship.But as a quick clip from the ALCS 14...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Buccaneers AfterMath: Dirk Koetter chooses his inconsistent kicker over his inconsistent quarterback

Buccaneers AfterMath: Dirk Koetter chooses his inconsistent kicker over his inconsistent quarterback

TAMPA — By beating the Browns 26-23 Sunday, the Buccaneers snapped a three-game losing streak and Tampa Bay breathed a collective sigh of relief.It wasn’t pretty, a misadventure full of interceptions, fumbles, penalties and missed kicks. ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
For killing his mother and niece, a half-century in prison for Pasco man

For killing his mother and niece, a half-century in prison for Pasco man

NEW PORT RICHEY ó Jason Rios will spend up to half a century in prison for the 2015 murders of his mother and niece and the attempted murder of another niece.Rios, 28, could be eligible to be released in 39 years. By then, he will be 67 ó and still s...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Bloomingdale video voyeur teacher: 353 new charges, $2 million bail

Bloomingdale video voyeur teacher: 353 new charges, $2 million bail

Investigators say they have uncovered an extensive amount of videos and images of under-age students secretly filmed while undressing by a Bloomingdale High School teacher who was arrested last month on a video voyeurism charge.Mark Ackett, 50, who r...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Tampa man charged with manslaughter for failing to call 911 after Plant High studentís fatal overdose

Tampa man charged with manslaughter for failing to call 911 after Plant High studentís fatal overdose

TAMPAFailures to call 911 leads to chargesA 19-year-old Tampa man is under arrest for his role in the death of a Plant High School senior who overdosed on heroin last year just weeks before graduation. Titan Goodson, of Harbour Island, was still in t...
Updated: 4 hours ago
East Lake, Steinbrenner girls move on to state golf tourney

East Lake, Steinbrenner girls move on to state golf tourney

VALRICO — East Lake and Steinbrenner advanced to the girls Class 3A state tournament on Nov. 6-7 at the Mission Inn and Resort in Howey-in-the-Hills.The Eagles shot a team total 340 on Monday afternoon at Buckhorn Springs Golf and Country Club....
Updated: 4 hours ago
Scenes from the Democratic rally in Tampa, featuring Joe Biden (w/video)

Scenes from the Democratic rally in Tampa, featuring Joe Biden (w/video)

"I think there's something different about this election," Biden told the crowd. "I really mean this. Let me get to the point. This election is bigger than politics. For real. This goes well beyond. You will never have voted in an election that's mor...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Trump threatens to cut aid to nations over migrant caravan

Trump threatens to cut aid to nations over migrant caravan

WASHINGTON ó President Donald Trump vowed Monday to cut off or "substantially" reduce aid to three Latin American nations, voicing fresh frustration as a growing caravan of migrants that originated in Honduras continued to make its way toward the U.S...
Updated: 4 hours ago