Monday, October 1, 2012

Rays Carillon Stadium Proposal: Top Opinions

Coverage of the “Rays Park at Carillon” unveiling Friday was plentiful; there were the predictable “oohs” and “ahhs” from the local broadcast outlets over things like a transparent roof, a “Disney-like tram,” and 35,000 state-of-the-art seats.

But what was also nice to see was the increased focus on how the heck Tampa Bay might pay for the awesomneness.  I've been saying for years that the discussions about where a stadium should go are almost pointless until progress is made on how to pay for it.

The Tampa Bay Times sizes up a $250 million shortfall:
Money from selling the Trop land might also be available because that cash flow wouldn't exist without a new stadium. Those two sources might reasonably generate roughly $150 million toward new construction. And the Rays have indicated they might contribute $150 million toward the right project. Even then, a $250 million gap would remain. "That's where the dialogue comes in," said council member Wengay Newton. "That's the line in the sand."

My WTSP co-worker Preston Rudie adds that state dollars could come into play as they did for the Marlins, and Michael Sasso from the Tampa Tribune writes that everyone seems to be pinning their hopes on the Tampa & St. Pete Chambers of Commerce, which are conducting a joint financial study.  The only problem is, that report is already more than six months overdue.

There were lots of other opinions about the Carillon proposal, including Steve Otto nicknaming it "El Tacoarena."   The Times editorial board made a poignant, albeit sarcastic, point about the plan suffering from a lack of transit options.

And John Romano's Saturday column was titled "an intriguing idea in the wrong spot," criticizing any efforts to build a stadium in Pinellas County.  He wrote Stu Sternberg "is going to hold out for the perfect stadium. Anything else does not make sense. Anything else is a $600 million mistake."

That's making a very large assumption that Sternberg plans on owning the Rays for decades to come and wouldn't be happy with a glitzy new, short-term attendance fix.  It may be true.  But a new stadium at Carillon would certainly convince more Hillsborough County residents to cross the bridge.

However, Romano reiterates an important point: "This has to be a partnership."  I've agreed.

Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties are going to have to work together if the region wants a new stadium, but for one constituency, it will likely mean paying for a stadium on the other end of the Howard Frankland Bridge.

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