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:
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.