Romano has been frustrated by the stalemate for years, but he writes its now holding a pair of downtowns hostage since developers & business leaders can't sit on empty properties forever. And available tax dollars won't be around forever:
As I wrote last week, there is a lot of value in long-term civic planning. But at the same time, there's no guarantee the region will decide building a new stadium is in its best interests if the Rays don't foot the majority of the bill themselves. And if there are public subsidies going to a stadium, the sooner the half-billion-dollar structure is built, the sooner it will start re-directing tax funds away from other sources.In many ways, both sides of the bay are at a crossroads. There is an opportunity to re-imagine and reinvigorate two downtowns, but one key issue must first be resolved.When will the Rays be allowed to look in Tampa?
Romano continues with his suggested "next step":
Drop the confidentiality agreement. If the Rays are refusing to offer compensation — as some City Council members have suggested — then let's find out. And if Foster is being unrealistic, then let's find that out, too.Couldn't agree more with Romano's conclusion about the confidentiality agreement - it probably isn't doing Rays fans or Tampa Bay taxpayers any good.
The other alternative, particularly if Foster is re-elected in November, is for the Rays to deal directly with the City Council.
(side note: In July, I also suggested that the Rays could potentially deal directly with city council against Foster's wishes, since council is in charge of city policy. But the Times' Mark Puente disagreed, saying nothing happens in a "strong mayor" form of government without the mayor's direction.)
Nevertheless, Romano's right in that a quick resolution might help St. Pete and Tampa plan better for the future. But a quick resolution could also jeopardize the region's legal leverage and encourage more public financing than may be necessary.