Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Tampa's biggest stadium-financing advocate is a Republican

It seems counter-intuitive that one of Hillsborough County's biggest anti-tax advocates keeps bringing up public financing ideas for a possible Rays stadium, but Commissioner Ken Hagan brought it up again Wednesday.

The St. Petersburg Times reports,
Hagan said he knows of no specific, concrete plans moving forward to build a baseball stadium in Hillsborough County and is not trying to lay the groundwork.

He said he was simply putting on record the idea that tax districts are a way to use public money without asking residents generally for a tax increase.

Under the proposal, the fairgrounds and surrounding land would be designated as a "community redevelopment area." As the economy rebounds, and new construction takes place, increased property tax money resulting from rising values would go to pay for roads, sewer pipes and other infrastructure in the immediate area.

Hagan said that as he has talked to people around the country where other stadiums have been built, and the so-called tax-increment financing has been a strategy used to pay for the public infrastructure they require. The team or other private interests then pay much, or all, of the stadium costs.

"I just want to point that out," Hagan said. "It came up in the context of the fairgrounds, but my comment was not directed at the fairgrounds."
Hagan is right in that TIFs have been used to successfully finance roads and parking lots at countless stadiums now. But it's wrong to assume (not that Hagen did) TIFs could finance an entire stadium. There's no real way right now to finance a stadium right now with just Hillsborough County's assets.

And that, folks, is why we have the stadium saga.

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