Thursday, January 27, 2011

Lightning Looking to Grab Few Available Hillsborough Tax Dollars

News this week of the Lightning's renovation plans for the St. Pete Times Forum should come as no real surprise, nor should their plans to ask for reimbursement from the county:

The Tampa Bay Lightning plans to announce roughly $40 million in renovations to the St. Pete Times Forum that the team hopes will significantly improve the hockey game and concert-going experience.

Documents obtained from Hillsborough County indicate that the team's new owners want to get reimbursed for much of the work with tourist taxes.

Among the changes being discussed: new seating, an overhauled ventilation system, a new interior color scheme and an upper-level concession area.

Deferred payment on immediate upgrades to a public building isn't a bad deal for the county. But it also reinforces my point from last year that Hillsborough County has no money for a possible Rays stadium.

When there's discussion of bed taxes potentially not covering the $2 million annual tab for the Forum, there's no way money will just magically free up for a brand-new baseball stadium before the bonds are paid off in 2027.

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