Sunday, November 18, 2012

Chambers' Rays Stadium Finance Report Due Monday

Two Tampa Bay-area chambers of commerce will release their long-awaited study on how to finance a new Rays stadium Monday.  The report, delayed at least once, is designed to break the stadium stalemate (good luck) by introducing ideas from a quorum of high-profile Tampa Bay business leaders.

As I wrote in 2011, the chamber caucus group is decidedly pro-stadium and although it won't advocate a preferred site, location won't matter as much as how they could possibly pool the $300 million in public revenue to get a deal done.

In an ideal world, multiple counties around Tampa Bay would contribute to a new stadium to lock up the team for decades to come. But cooperation has never been Tampa Bay's strongest characteristic and, thanks to the recent Marlins' firesale, the timing of tomorrow's report couldn't be worse.

For that reason, you can expect the presentation to mention easier-to-swallow pills like rental car taxes, Tax-Increment Funding (TIFs), and/or Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILOTs).

However, these ideas are all still taxes, and the chambers of commerce face an uphill battle when it comes to winning public support for any kind of stadium subsidy right now.

What to watch for tomorrow: any new ground the stadium caucus breaks that the ABC Coalition didn't identify in 2010.  De-facto spokesman for the ABC coalition, Craig Sher, said at the time a new stadium "is just not going to happen," without public financing, so we're still waiting for answers to "how will it happen?"  Will the chambers of commerce address the elephant in the room and take the bold political step of suggesting a multi-county tax?

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