Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Could Rays Piggyback a Rail Referndum?

Last week, I wrote that Tampa Bay stadium talk may be entirely premature considering the giant leaps forward the region may make in the next few years when it comes to transit.

Monday, Trib reporter Michael Sasso wrote that light rail could be seen as a remedy to the Rays’ attendance ills.

Eighteen months ago, the Rays took a rare public political position in donating $50,000 to rail advocacy group "Moving Hillsborough Forward." And they may be willing to do it again.

In an era where few prominent sports figures are willing to speak their minds politically (new Rays slugger Luke Scott not included), it would be refreshing to see Stu Sternberg use his leverage to push for better transit in Tampa Bay.

Of course, it could potentially help the Rays too. While St. Pete politicians may think rail could keep the Trop relevant long-term, I have a feeling Sternberg & co. have already discussed the possibility of a Rail & Rays referendum.

Just as the Bucs piggybacked their stadium efforts onto a schools referendum in 1995, the Rays could potentially tout the region-changing benefits of getting both rail and a stadium for one "low" price.

Of course, the price would likely be somewhere near $2 billion over 30 years in the form of a penny-per-dollar regional sales tax. And such a project would require significant legislative finagling. But it's happened time and time again in Florida and history could certainly repeat itself.

1 comment:

  1. The way to do it would be to have a train station and rail museum at the ballpark. Much like the rail station at the old Boston Garden. Use rail money (hopefully almost entirely federal) for the entire project, building a great train station and ballpark and connecting it with smaller stations in St. Pete, Brandon, Sarasota, Orlando, Lakeland, etc. Too bad the high speed rail money is already gone. If they were going to waste that money anyway, they might as well have used it for a ballpark and a light rail system that at least some people would have used, if nothing else other than to get to the games.