Thursday, October 25, 2012

Stadium Financing Caucus Nears Report Release

The long-awaited "Baseball Stadium Financing Caucus" report on just how to pay for a new Rays stadium appears to finally be nearing completion.  Robert Trigaux with the Tampa Bay Times reports Chuck Sykes and members of the Tampa and St. Petersburg chambers of commerce will publicize their findings soon:
An early executive summary emphasizes the importance of finding ways to pay for at least a portion of a new stadium — estimated to at $500 million to $600 million — with public funding. Mindful of today's antitax sentiment, the report looks at bond financing that could be used to raise money for a stadium. The bonds could be paid for by existing taxes used to cover debts that will soon be paid off. That would make tax money available for stadium funding — without the need for new taxes.
Even Trigaux acknowledges the preliminary findings are "rather basic," since there has only been one baseball stadium built in the last 50 years without public funding.

When the study was launched in June 2011, I wrote, "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."

So what new ground will the report break that the ABC Coalition didn't already identify?  In May 2010, Craig Sher, de-facto spokesman for the ABC coalition, said "it's just not going to happen," with regards to a new stadium without public financing.

"There's not that kind of revenue and profit-potential in Major League sports - particularly baseball - to privately-finance a whole stadium," Sher said.

So where will all the money come from?  Will the chambers of commerce address the elephant in the room and take the bold political step of suggesting a multi-county tax?

After several delays in releasing the report, anything from the caucus this fall that breaks the stadium stalemate would be a welcome sight for many Rays fans.  However, it wouldn't be a good idea to hold your breath.

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