Monday, June 10, 2013

Competition Heats Up for Tampa Funds

The Tampa Tribune's Michael Sasso reports this morning that Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn may have trouble protecting a potential $100 million pot of money for a baseball stadium:
At least one county commissioner, Victor Crist, believes Hillsborough County has a right to some of that money, which would eat into the pot of money available for a future stadium. Meantime, the chairman of the governmental entity that controls those dollars, Tampa City Councilman Frank Reddick, doesn't approve of using them for a sports stadium.

The pot of money in question won't come up for debate for two more years, but already people are making plans to claim it.
They're eyeing tax-increment financing (TIF) money that is designed to be re-invested in Tampa.  After the convention center is paid off in 2015, the $12-13 million a year could go toward a stadium.  But of course, if you don't spend the money on a stadium, it could go to a variety of other projects such as roads, the Forum, Channelside, or as County Commissioner Victor Crist suggests, renovated blighted neighborhoods:
The mayor disagrees, of course. He says Hillsborough County gets huge benefits from downtown Tampa projects such as the convention center, which helps fill hotels all over the county.

He'd like all the money to continue to be available for big downtown projects, such as a new stadium or a major entertainment complex, which Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik is contemplating.

"That is my hope," Buckhorn said. "That is what I'm hoping for the county."
Buckhorn, who has said he wouldn't get in the middle of the Rays' Stadium Saga right now, may have an easier time lobbying for the Vinik/Channelside project...and he's got the support of County Commissioner Ken Hagan, who wants money prioritized for a stadium or Vinik-led endeavor.

But the debate, which comes after a similar one started in neighboring Pinellas County, drives home the real urgency in the Stadium Saga.  It's not a race to prevent the Rays from leaving town (their contract runs through 2027), but a race to claim available funds before some other project does.

In 2015, there should be monies available in Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Pinellas County.  The Rays know these deadlines.  And they also know the 2017 deadline, when they're likely to have a new TV contract in place that will make their subsidy case a lot less compelling

We should also keep in mind $100 million doesn't go very far in this equation and might simply be the cost of buying out St. Pete's contract a decade early.


  1. Well Noah, again, it's happening, mostly behind the scenes, BUT I guess if YOU can't see it OR hear about, it's NOT happening, lol... #Channelsideherewecome

  2. I'm not sure how it would take $100 mill to buy out of St. Pete's contract.

    Considering the Rays contract was for a 30 year lease and St Pete spending <$70 mill for ballpark and neighborhood improvements. On top of that when all is said and done the Rays will have spent at least 20 of the 30 years in the commitment. I don't see how it could reasonably be more than $20 million. But even that is more than the Rays should have to pay the city.

    1. The Rays said in 2008 that they bring hundreds of millions of dollars to the area. St. Pete will use the team's own words against them, and if they leave before the end of their contract, St. Pete will want compensation for the loss of economic impact.


    2. I'm not sure what that has to do with anything. St. Pete built the stadium without a team. The team signed a usage contract with some improvements earmarked.

      If the stadium was built for the Rays, which it wasn't, then they may have case. It was built to lure the Rays, so really the only question is the improvements + breaking the terms of usage.

    3. So then what do you say to MLB, which agreed to the terms of the expansion deal? Or to Sternberg & co. that agreed to the use agreement when they purchased the team?

      If you buy a house and decide it was a lousey deal five years in, can you just tell the bank you want to tear your mortgage up?

    4. But they didn't buy a house. They're renting a house that someone built. They told that home owner to put in some new carpets and they'd stay there for 30 years and signed a lease accordingly. If they break that lease, it doesn't mean they have to pay for the house. It means they'll probably loose their last months deposit, and maybe pay a portion of those carpets they demanded the home owners put in since they aren't honoring the 30 year lease.