And so apparently is the Trib's Steve Otto. His Sunday column acknowledges the Channelside deal (if approved) will "move things along in the baseball stadium dream department," but Otto doesn't seem sold on the idea:
Personally, I figure a downtown arena might generate a few thousand more fans than the Rays are pulling in at Tropicana Field, but I don’t know that in the long run that is going to be enough to keep them here. What they are going to need in this money game are companies willing to buy lots of tickets and to fill up corporate boxes.The Port Authority doesn't have hundreds of millions of dollars lying around, and if it did, I'm not sure it would support the agency's mission of creating actual, you know, good, full-time jobs through port traffic.
So far they seem to be in hiding.
For one thing, the port authority, which I always assumed was there to make sure the channel was dredged and that the container ship terminals were in place, was about to get into the retail, entertainment and even baseball business.
But then the authority has that one thing that could make it all work ... money.
Sure, it’s your money, but that makes it even better.
But that doesn't mean the Port Authority won't play a major role in stadium discussions down the road. One of Otto's counterparts at the Times, Dan Ruth, even joked in his Sunday column, "and when the Tampa Bay Rays move to downtown Tampa things will really start hopping, which - forgive a touch of cynicism, is what this deal ultimately always has been about anyway."