Friday, June 24, 2011

Tampa/St. Pete Chambers' Coalition: What Does it Mean?

Thursday's announcement that business leaders on both sides of the Bay will discuss ideas on how to fund a stadium is a welcome chapter in the Stadium Saga; but it's not a surprising one. After all, the ABC Coalition - not coincidentally, a group of business leaders from both sides of the Bay - concluded a new coalition would be necessary in its final report from January 2010.  {Read the report here}:
The coalition found the Rays are right to assert the current stadium near Downtown St. Pete is too remote for most fans to frequently visit, and that Tampa Bay will need to band together to get a new stadium deal done.

"This is all one region," said Rays' Senior Vice President Michael Kalt. "We're committed to this process and this region, so I don't think anyone has any reason to worry, no matter if they're in St. Pete or Tampa or Pasco County."
Kalt did, however, repeat that he hoped leaders on both sides of Tampa Bay would put aside their differences and work together to keep the Rays in the area. It's an assertion echoed several times by members of the coalition.

"Baseball is regional, just like transit or education," said ABC Coalition member Craig Sher. "We need to take a regional approach...not just one city."
The news should also ease Stu Sternberg's frustrations at the region's uncooperative attitude, but it may not get him much closer to a stadium. With no taxing authority, the group of businessmen may be hard-pressed to do anything more than lobby for a multi-county tax and tax breaks for the project.

These are some very powerful business leaders determined to make things happen, but if funding a stadium was as simple as pooling their private dollars, we wouldn't be in the current stalemate.

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