Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Stadium Stalemate is Because Tampa Bay Won't Embrace Multi-County Tax

As I wrote on WTSP.com today, the head of the grass-roots business group, "The Clutch Hitters," met with St. Pete Mayor Bill Foster today. He told me it was just a casual chat, and there's little reason why it would ever be more than that.

The Clutch Hitters are doing a noble thing and encouraging local leaders to think regionally for the sake a new stadium. They aren't advocating location or even revenue streams, just discussion.

But the group isn't telling Foster, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, or anyone else in positions of power things they don't already know (Foster admitted it in 2009). The only way to get a new stadium built is with public money, and it will take a multi-county effort (like in Colorado, Minnesota, Milwaukee, etc) to come up with enough.

So right now, as The Clutch Hitters encourage regional cooperation and the area's two biggest Chambers of Commerce "explore financing possibilities," any discussion of stadium location is taboo. Because as easy as a tenth-of-a-cent sales tax would be to swallow for some people, few in St. Pete would get on-board with the plan if the stadium was built in Tampa. Likewise, few in Tampa would support their dollars going toward another Pinellas stadium.

The Chambers and Hitters both know a regional revenue stream is the first step toward a new stadium, but nobody - including the Rays - know how to get there. Every time stadium financing is raised, stadium location dominates the discussion.

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