Does BuilditDowntownTampa have money behind it, or is it just a young, prematurely balding guy with a laptop who hangs out at an Ybor City coffee shop?I've known Neubauer for more than three years, ever since he launched his grass-roots effort, and I'll attest - he's one of the people that "gets it." He understands you can't have a stadium discussion without talking finances first. He understands all the moving pieces of the modern-day stadium deal.
Now, the group is trying to raise its stature, raise money and tighten its focus. Its new roles could be running a marketing campaign to support a new ballpark. It’s not pushing for a stadium tax, but admits it might be necessary, its leaders say.
Executive Director Ryan Neubauer said former Devil Rays slugger Fred McGriff has agreed to serve as the group’s ceremonial spokesman, but the Tribune could not reach McGriff to confirm that.
Four years after forming, the group is trying to become a bigger player. It sees itself as a facilitator that could bring together the private sector, the government and the Rays. That’s a role that some people wish a more established group such as the Tampa Bay Partnership could fill, but Neubauer said he doesn’t think the partnership has shown an ability to do it.
And, potentially most productive, Sasso points out that Neubauer understands a third-party may ultimately have to broker a deal that breaks the stadium stalemate.