But on the other hand, is it really necessary to convince one of Downtown Tampa's brightest minds - Jeff Vinik - that he shouldn't close the door on a possible Downtown Tampa baseball stadium?
In this morning's Tampa Tribune:
Hillsborough County Commission Chairman Ken Hagan has asked the owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team, Jeff Vinik, to consider a Rays stadium on land he partly owns across from the Forum in downtown Tampa. Vinik is a partner with a Colorado-based investment group in at least 14 acres across from the Forum, and he’s been planning a large-scale development project there.One thing is certain: Vinik, who is a minority owner of the Boston Red Sox, needs no reminding about the possible uses for his land.
Hagan said he asked Vinik’s group not to make any plans until the Rays’ standoff with St. Petersburg is resolved. Hagan said he’s not committed to Vinik’s property, which sits on each side of Caesar Street and just north of Channelside Drive, but wants to have several potential stadium sites available in case the Rays come knocking.
But the stalemate between St. Pete and the Rays could very well linger for years. And if Downtown Tampa really needs a baseball stadium to trigger development, there won't be any major projects filling the Channelside area anytime soon anyway. However, if developers are clamoring to fill all those downtown parcels right now and people are clamoring to move there, would a baseball stadium (likely land not on tax rolls) really be the highest-and-best use of that land?
“What I have asked (Vinik's group) to do is to not make any commitments toward their development until we have an understanding of how the Rays’ potential relocation efforts are played out,” Hagan told the Trib.
There's a lot of value in creating a master plan for downtown, but if Vinik and other developers were really on the verge of doing something with all that vacant land, the suggestion of slowing that progress could be counter-productive.
Hagan, who once said he didn't support any public money going toward a stadium, also told the Trib he was opposed to Hillsborough County compensating St. Pete for the early termination of their Rays contract.
“No, I can’t see any circumstance where Hillsborough County would compensate St. Pete for allowing the Rays to break their use agreement,” he said.
While Hillsborough may never actually cut St. Pete a check, if it costs anything to "make St. Pete whole," it's simply increasing the bottom line cost of a new stadium, which Tampa/Hillsborough taxpayers would presumably help subsidize.
However, if Hagan is siding with Bud Selig in the alleged MLB/St. Pete brouhaha over compensation, it's only playing into the Rays' hand and making the current impasse harder to solve.