Saturday, August 24, 2013

St. Pete Chamber Chair Fires Back Across Bay

The chairman of St. Petersburg's Chamber of Commerce, David Punzak, penned a Letter to the Editor in response to Cathy Peek McEwen's Op-Ed earlier this week entitled, "MLB has duty to help free Rays from financial prison."

There was one seemingly glaring factual inaccuracy in the story about Rays ticket-holders, but Punzak was even less impressed:
As a 16-year Rays season-ticket holder and the current chairman of the St. Pete Area Chamber of Commerce, I was very disappointed to see the above-referenced article printed in the Tribune. I recognize Cathy Peek McEwen’s column appeared in the Other Views section, so her words are not the position of the newspaper. That is good news.

The article is close-minded, factually inaccurate and deliberately inciteful. It is the baseball equivalent of race baiting. It was written to include many material inaccuracies, and many regional myths perpetuated by these types of articles.

What disturbs me most about this article is that it dredges up a lot of very bad, decades-old history between the Tampa and St. Pete communities. I thought we were past that. As business leaders, it is our job to move past this unhealthy rhetoric. We’re working hard with our partners and leaders at the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce to help reshape the conversation about baseball.

We all need to look forward, not backward.

In order for Major League Baseball to succeed in the Tampa Bay area (whether in St. Petersburg or Tampa), it is going to take the collective goodwill, buy-in and economic contribution of people living in all communities in the Tampa Bay area.

Parochial, mean-spirited views, like those of Ms. McEwen that intentionally malign nearly half of the entire Tampa Bay area community, do nothing to ensure the continued success of MLB in this area.
The St. Pete Chamber, which teamed up with the Tampa Area Chamber to research stadium financing last year, hasn't exactly been supportive of a Tampa stadium replacing the Trop.  However, it should be encouraging for stadium supporters to hear the suggestion of "economic contribution of people living in all communities in the Tampa Bay area."

Could multi-county contributions be in the region's future?

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