Thursday, August 29, 2013

Referendum Questions: From St. Pete to Sacramento to Tampa

With the referednum on continuing to build a new St. Pete Pier going down in flames this week, the topic of referendums seems to be coming up quite a bit.

And, depending whom you ask - especially given the pier problems - voters may not always know best.  In fact, there are probably at least a few Rays fans who wish there would have been more support for the canceled "sailboat" stadium referendum in 2008.

But there's an interesting take from the New Ballpark blog on the importance of putting stadium subsidies to a vote:
  1. Public money for stadia in the form of cash, loans, or bonds – whether or not secured by upfront taxes or fees – should never happen in this day and age.
  2. All new or renovated venues that do not require public money are generally good, as long as they don’t come with significant kickbacks for the team and developers.
  3. Any public assistance that goes beyond processing permits or planning work (providing land, money, or other benefits) should require a public vote over the terms of the deal.
New Ballpark is especially critical of the Sacramento arena efforts, which are intentionally avoiding a voter referendum - presumably for the same reason the Rays yanked theirs off the table in 2008 - because true democracy doesn't always produce what elected officials consider the best results.

The post continues:
Are these people nuts? Have some respect for your citizens, politicians. Allow for campaigns. Allow the citizens and fans to be fully educated on the issues. You owe them that much. Sure, campaigns are expensive. The billionaires and millionaires who want these projects can afford campaign costs, they’ve seen and done it before. Chances are that they’ll outspend opponents 10:1. They have the resources. That’s fine. That’s the way the process works.
Eventually, we may see the process repeat itself in Tampa Bay....where a recent poll shows voters have no interest in approving a taxpayer-subsidized stadium.

And a Letter to the Editor in this morning's Times (3rd one down) echoes the sentiment of many residents here, it seems:
We are paying enough for problems from the past -- reservoirs under repair, nuclear energy plants that will never be built, a section of an expressway under construction, and now a section of road just three years old leading to Tampa International Airport...We must learn from our many mistakes. Any plans to build a new baseball stadium must not include any citizen funding and must be approved in a referendum in the 2014 elections.
There's a reason referendums are not part of the standard blueprint for stadium campaigns.


  1. Looks like the city of Boston is about to get casinos shoved down their throats without so much as a referendum. And they'll be placed in poor neighborhoods as a means of "renewal." We all know how that will end.

    Where did I put my powdered wig?

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  3. (Brendan, you went quiet after realizing your digressive opinion about Ray Jay wasn't quite accurate)
    Also, whats really sad is that most people voted against St.Pete's new pier because of their "against anything Gov." & "conservative" ideology, and not because there wasn't going to be much to do on the pier like there was back-in-the-day when your could ride pirate-ships, play golf, rent jet skis, etc....
    What's going to be even sadder is when the Rays leave, and downtown St.Pete has nothing attractive but a couple more paved road through the hood that was paid for with the same money that was suppose to go toward a new pier...

    1. Mr. Dufala, did you and I watch the same election? Neither Ms. Ford nor Dr. McKalip made the runoff. As for the Lens, I think it failed exactly because "there wasn't going to be much to do" there. Just one opinion, everybody's got one. . .

    2. I didn't watch any "election". Though we both have the same opinion about the lack of stuff to do to attract people to the pier it self, we also both know that at least 1/2, if not most of the people that voted against it would voted against any pier that was funded w/ city money because of their "against anything government", "conservative" ideology...

    3. Clearly, Dufala hasn't paid much attention to what's been going on in Downtown St. Pete the last few years.

    4. ? Com'on Noah, we both know the percentage of people that would of voted against the pier regardless of what it looked like or hosted.
      So your saying a bad-ass pier that looks like that lens thing wouldn't of drawn more additional revenue from tourist then the $50 million in 10-20 or so years? If not, then just say it wouldn't, though I find it hard to believe that tourist @ the beaches come in droves to go to places like Fresco's or Push Ultra Lounge in downtown St.Pete, lol...

    5. No, I'm saying you aren't paying attention to what's happened lately if you think without the Rays, "downtown St.Pete has nothing attractive but a couple more paved road through the hood."

    6. oha, no, I stated that correctly. Without the Rays, the pier, and besides simply having a nicer area downtown then most, what big everyday attraction will draw the residents & tourist from the beaches & Tampa, the parts south if they don't build a pier and spend the $50 mill on something like paving a few more roads???

    7. !

    8. How about the usual things that draw people into a downtown area? You know, things like dining, music, entertainment, etc. Those little things that a normal person would do if he's not a shut-in dope who can't bear not having grown men continually playing a children's' game in front of him...

      In fact, there's probably a lot more people who'll be willing to come into downtown when there's not a game sucking all the money out of their pockets, jacking taxes up and siphoning revenue and police resources from all of us who don't care about being robbed to support the boring, outdated "national pastime".

      Wow, just look at all the people flocking to Channelside to bask in the glow of the hockey stadium. It's a baffling mystery how all the restaurants and stores in that area are shutting down when there's such a wonderful planned economic windfall of a stadium right next door...

    9. Did you really waste your time writing that? Though I'm sorry to inform you, but "usual things" don't "draw" lots of "people into a downtown area", which doesn't translate into much of a economic engine for counties. If your not a sports person then OK, but you must not know anything about Channelside, but there's a reason for all the buzz about future development, and all the newly condos & businesses built around along with the extra business from events hosted @ TBT Forum. And don't forget that "hockey stadium" does host Tampa's biggest "dining, music, entertainment, etc." events!