Friday, April 6, 2012

Times Applauds Marlins Stadium, Ignores Watchdog Responsibility

The Tampa Bay Times editorial board celebrated opening day with an opinion piece on the Marlins' new stadium. But the heralded watchdog institution focused not on the deceitful methods the team used to capture hundreds of millions of tax dollars, but on how pretty the new stadium looked:
Miami on Wednesday night opened Marlins Park, a gorgeous $642 million work of art that reflects the city's urban chic with its fish tanks, nightclub and colorful 70-foot sculpture beyond centerfield. For Tampa Bay, such a step into the 21st century remains a dream as the Rays open their season this afternoon in outdated Tropicana Field.
There was no mention of the federal SEC investigation into the heavy-handed way the public financing was put together. And no mention of how the escapade got the Miami-Dade mayor booted from office.

Instead, the editorial dismisses the critics in a single graf:
There are cost overruns, nagging concerns about traffic and parking issues. But the experience there can be instructive for Tampa Bay with stadium discussions stalled by St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster's petty parochialism and lack of vision.
I believe we've heard this before...

But Times readers, instead of getting a watchdog, are getting the single-biggest cheerleader for a new baseball stadium. The paper's role in the conversation is a controversial topic I first covered back in 2010:
Tim Nickens, the Editor of Editorials for the St. Petersburg Times addressed his paper's perceived boosterism of the past, saying, "our approach is substantially different than it was in the 1980s (when Tropicana Field was built)."

"The St. Petersburg Times is interested - on the editorial page - in keeping the team in Tampa Bay," Nickens continued. "The Tampa Tribune's editorial page - has been much more interested in moving the team to Downtown Tampa."
It's clear the editorial board wants Mayor Foster to make the next move. But there's no telling to what extent it will go to make it happen.


  1. Thank you for your continued interest and worthwhile reporting on this issue.