For instance, Chevron Corp., a company that made $26 billion in profits last year, has been the biggest single beneficiary since 2003. And it is far from alone. Tax-exempt bonds have been used to fund a golf resort in Puerto Rico, the construction of the Goldman Sachs Group offices and the Bank of America Tower in New York and even a winery in North Carolina.The piece follows another Times editorial last month criticizing the soon-to-be-approved Bass Pro Shops subsidies. The February editorial criticized a $6.25 million subsidy to lure the outdoor retailer to Hillsborough County:
Bass could indeed be a welcome addition. But there is nothing here that cries out for special treatment. Bass should be held to the same standard as others in the business world who pay their own way to compete in the private market, and the County Commission should reject this one-sided deal.So how does any of this relate to the Stadium Saga?
In January, Shadow of the Stadium pointed out that tax-exempt bonds are one of the leading mechanisms to fund baseball stadiums. So of course, you would think the Times - against "corporate welfare" and "special treatment" - is against public subsidies for private sports teams.
Except the editorial board has been nothing but a cheerleader for the Rays' efforts, even after a group of local businessmen analyzed stadium funding options in Tampa Bay and said the region would need to rely on tax-exempt bonds and other government help.
In fact, the Times has done very little to explain why it supports the attempt by a private corporation (the Rays) to escape its contract with the City of St. Pete, presumably, so other municipalities could help build it a new stadium. The paper even celebrated the Marlins' controversially-funded new stadium.
Yes, pro teams provide a civic boost to the communities that support them, And yes, MLB's $7.5 billion in revenues pale in comparison to Chevron's $26 billion in profits. And no, neither the Rays nor MLB have officially asked for public dollars since the waterfront stadium plan blew up in 2008.
But while the Times hasn't officially supported public dollars for a new Rays stadium yet, either, there seems to be a disconnect in their editorial logic. Since it's pretty clear to everyone this side of the Floribama line that public dollars would be required to build a new Rays stadium, it's surprising the paper has taken such a different approach to a professional sports corporation.