Thursday, February 13, 2014

Romano Indicates Rays Stadium Should Be at Forefront of Bed Tax Discussions

John Romano delved into the how the Stadium Saga stalemate was impacting future decisions on bed taxes this morning {link to Times' site}:
Is Pinellas County preparing to get out of the business of Major League Baseball?

"It's not like an official decision has been made," {Commissioner Charlie} Justice said Wednesday. "It just seems like the thought of spending any of that money on a stadium has been pushed to the background. No one has said that; it's more an observation I've made."
There are 14 seasons remaining on the use agreement at Tropicana Field, but the clock on stadium decisions has always run a little faster than many have realized.
Pinellas County's payment obligations at Tropicana Field will end in a couple of years, and a handful of groups are lining up to claim the tourism dollars that will suddenly be available. There's a similar situation in Hillsborough, where Tampa Convention Center debts will soon be paid off, and various eyeballs are beginning to focus on that windfall.
If you remember back a year ago, it was actually the Rays that encouraged Pinellas County to more or less "move on" past baseball because Tropicana Field land could be more valuable without a stadium there.  Ironic.

And a few months ago, I reported that Pinellas Co. might be leaning more toward spending money on spring training stadia than a new home for the Rays, since they seem to be on the "Tampa or Bust" train.

But Romano made it clear - via his conclusion that "one of these days, time will no longer be on our side" - that spending bed tax money on the Rays (either in Pinellas or Hillsborough) should be a priority and the discussion needs to happen sooner, rather than later.

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