Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Bollywood Didn't Bring $100 Million to Tampa, After All

From all indications, Tampa's Bollywood experiment was a great success.  Huge crowds flew into town for a beautiful Florida weekend.  The international exposure is great.  And today's Tampa Tribune praised city & event leaders for coming through "with flying colors."

Success with big events like these are great for a city's reputation and can pay long-term dividends both economically and sometimes socially as well.

But they also serve as great lessons in economic projections and the grand promises that come along with big events.  When Visit Tampa Bay and local leaders announced Bollywood last year, they knew they could make almost any claim because few (if any) watchdogs would question them.

That's what I'm here for.

Most of our questions about economic impact before the event were more or less blown off.  But yesterday, my WTSP-TV colleague Mark Rivera compared the initial projections (somewhere between $18 million economic impact and $100 million impact?!?) to the most recent projections (revised down to an arbitrary figure of $15 million).

Rivera also reported the local hotel/motel association would have preferred to sell a few more rooms:
Bob Morrison says there was a big spike in "room-nights" around a week from the event. He says 10 to 12,000 room-nights were booked for the IIFA awards.
When I checked for hotel rooms last week, most websites had plenty of hotels available, many offering steep discounts.  Not exactly RNC-style sellouts.

But at the end of the day, filling extra rooms is a good thing.  Filling some local restaurants is a good thing.  And the international marketing is a great bonus.

Tampa leaders were smart to limit their financial exposure on this one; although behind-the-scenes, I understand there was a lot of private-donor arm-twisting.

And just to make sure no good event goes without worthless economic impact studies, Visit Tampa Bay, Bollywood's biggest cheerleader no matter what controversy came its way, will reportedly conduct a post-event economic impact study....because that will be credible.  Can't wait to see how many public dollars the agency spends to pats itself on the back.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Legislature's Cuban Amendment May Only Impact Rays Stadium Financing

The Florida House may vote Friday on its new stadium subsidy package, but not without first adopting a couple of interesting amendments, including one that could withhold monies from MLB teams until the league starts treating Cuban players like other international players.  It comes on the heels of Yasiel Puig's claims that a Mexican drug cartel was trying to extort 20% of his earnings.

But SaintPetersblog reports that Lakeland officials are nervous HB 7095 could impact their planned Tigers spring training upgrades, largely subsidized with state money:
However, Florida House Appropriations Committee chair Seth McKeel, who represents Lakeland, assures the city the amendment will not affect spring training, Rufty writes.

"It affects a potential pot of money that could possibly be allocated if the Legislature passes the incentive bill (HB 7095) for new major league stadiums for the Tampa Bay Rays and the Florida Marlins, which want to build new stadiums," McKeel added.

Gaetz said HB 7095 is for new funding based solely on capital improvements and stadium construction. It exempts existing spring training money, but future funds from the new source – for Lakeland or any other sports facility — could be withheld until MLB changes the rule on Cuban players.
If the bill is signed into law and it exempts spring training stadiums, the political statement could be costly for one team:  the Tampa Bay Rays.  Since we'd only be talking about full-season big-league stadiums and the Marlins just got one, we're really only talking about the Rays.

The other amendment adopted by the House on Thursday would require pro teams receiving new state subsidies to make their (state-owned) facilities available as emergency shelters on non-event days.  A similar effort failed a couple years ago when pushed by local subsidy critic Mike Bennett, then a state Senator.

The House and Senate bills both cap total expenditures for new stadiums, but they also both open the door for new teams to get funds.  A House amendment, approved on April 1, "expanded the definition of 'Beneficiary' to include the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, Major League Soccer, or the North American Soccer League, the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association, and the promoter of a signature event sanctioned by the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing."

Billionaire Heat Owner Wants More Tax Dollars

Field of Schemes reports Heat owner Micky Arison, the second-richest owner in all of pro sports, wants taxpayers to pay him $12-$17 million a year to extend his lease in Miami:
Miami-Dade commissioner Juan Zapata called the proposed deal “horrible” and said he’d “never seen anything so ridiculous”; that seems a bit over the top, given that Miami would effectively be paying the Heat $5 million a year (in 2014 dollars) to promise to stay put for another ten years, and there are certainly worse lease subsidies out there. It still doesn’t make it a good deal — the Heat don’t have a viable threat to leave town right now, though it’s always possible things will have changed by 2029, especially if Miami is a post-apocalyptic hellscape by then — but it’s only ridiculous in, you know, a routine kind of way.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Hooper: "Tampa, are we just not a good sports town?"

An excerpt from Ernest Hooper's column questioning how hardcore Tampa Bay fans really are {link to Times' site}:
Plenty of Rays lovers who live in Tampa insist the team will draw more fans if a new stadium went up in the Channel District. After wading through 45 minutes of traffic on my way to the Yankees game — just to reach the Hillsborough entrance to the Howard Frankland Bridge — I want to believe a relocation might make a difference.

But would it really?

Maybe the team would struggle on either side of the bay. Maybe attendance lags for the Rays and Bucs because the economic dollars in the community won't stretch far enough to support three major franchises.

Or maybe we just don't care enough to go to every game or even a lot of games.

Usually when our teams contend and compete, we show up in droves. In the Bucs' heyday, seats proved scarce and the team boasted a waiting list. But when ticket prices went up and the economy went down, attendance began to bottom and it still hasn't recovered.

The University of South Florida football team's fortunes followed a similar path. When the Bulls climbed into the nation's Top 10, crowds filled Raymond James. But its tailspin into mediocrity has resulted in embarrassing numbers.

And we won't even talk about USF basketball, another program that draws more visiting fans than hometown supporters — when it's lucky.

In a great sports town, fans show up win or lose, seemingly adhering to the legendary code of letter carriers. In this town, I fear to think what would happen if our spectators had to fight through snow or rain or gloom of night.
Hooper talks about competing amusements, disposable family income, poor transit, and lack of corporate headquarters.  But he also questions if the lack of an "over-the-top fervor" from fans is the difference-maker here.

He also talks about waning attendance at Gators games, although I see that more of a sign of the HD TV effect than waning fandom.  However, when it comes to Tampa Bay teams, its clear there aren't enough fans who care about going to games.  And the fandom that will prompt a family to drive 3+ hours each way to a Gators football game is absent when it comes to driving 30 minutes each way to a Rays game.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Difference Between Good Hockey Owners and Bad Hockey Owners

Good hockey owners, like the Lightning's Jeffrey Vinik and the Bruins' Charlie Jacobs spend tens of millions of their own dollars on stadium improvements.
{read: "The Good Owner," 4/15/14, Tampa Bay Times}

Bad hockey owners, like the Panthers' Vincent Viola, lobby local governments for tens of millions of dollars in bailouts.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Yawn Pt. II

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn appeared on WDAE-AM's "The Sports Page" Tuesday morning, and said he was "happy" that Rays owner Stu Sternberg thought Tampa was an attractive possible future home for the team (Yawn Pt. I).

Other big news this morning: the sun rose and the sky is still blue.
“I think everyone recognizes that its not going to work in its current configuration,” said Buckhorn. “To know that Tampa is a serious option for him (Sternberg) whether its downtown or any other location I think is good. When that day comes this community and this region needs to be prepared to put its best minds to the task to figuring out how to make this work.”
After he touted the viability of a Downtown Tampa stadium, Buckhorn then acknowledged paying for one would be a “very difficult lift.”

So on the bright side of things, Tampa is at least on level playing field with Montreal right now!

Latest Spring Training Subsidy Speculation

Earlier this week, I wrote how proposed new legislation aimed at retaining Florida sports teams could actually have adverse effects and put taxpayers at a greater disadvantage by encouraging shorter leases & lower penalties for teams that break those leases.

And even though some Senators seem to recognize the state is handing out money to merely move teams from one side of Florida to another (Nancy Detert, R-Sarasota, at 1:07:00 in this clip), the giveaways continue.

For instance, the Nationals, a team that would never seriously consider moving to Arizona, is still in line for tens of million dollars in handouts sp they can move with the Astros to West Palm Beach.  The subsidies are not because the Nats are threatening to leave the state, but merely because several other Florida communities - bolstered by state dollars - may ultimately try to outbid each other for their services.

It's not exactly the kind of wise state spending taxpayers would expect.  But then again, it's not like Governor Rick Scott has any interest in reeling it in.


From the Associated Press:
NEW YORK (AP) -- Six years after saying they wanted to explore alternative sites to downtown St. Petersburg for a new ballpark, the Tampa Bay Rays still are in search of a location.

"Tampa is obviously very, very attractive on the list, and we expect to at some point, hopefully sooner, look there as well as some other parts of the region," Rays owner Stuart Sternberg said Tuesday during a panel at the MLB Diversity Business Summit.

Sternberg took control of the team after the 2005 season, and in November 2007 the Rays proposed to replace Tropicana Field with a 34,000-seat, open-air stadium at the downtown site of Al Lang Field, a longtime spring training ballpark. They withdrew that plan the following June, and Sternberg said in June 2010 he wanted to explore potential sites throughout the Tampa Bay area.

The Rays' lease at Tropicana Field runs through 2027. Tampa Bay hasn't drawn more than 2 million fans at home since its first season in 1998. Despite winning 90 or more games in each of the last four seasons, the Rays haven't topped 1.6 million in any of the last three years.

"We haven't had the greatest success in attracting the what we call enough fans relative to the success we've had on-field, and we would like to explore other part of the region, specifically Tampa and parts of St. Petersburg," Sternberg said.

He said the Rays need to undertake "a full-out exploration" of transportation and access issues.

"Until we're able to do all the work that's necessary there, I won't really have an answer for it," he said.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Fla. Legislature Will Try to Make it Easier for Pro Teams to Take Hostages

So I guess the good news for Florida taxpayers is the state isn't adding any new money to its already-robust spring training-earmarked fund this year...but some legislators sure are hell-bent on reducing the state's negotiating power with MLB teams.

According to Isadora Rangel from the Tribune/Scripps Capital Bureau, the seemingly-annual Senate stadium bill includes provisions that would make it even easier for teams to land taxpayer handouts (as if it wasn't easy enough already):
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, cleared the Senate Appropriation Committee on Thursday and allows incentives approved last year to be distributed over a shorter period of time — 20 years instead of 30 years for one-team facilities and 25 years instead of 37 1⁄2 years for two-team facilities.
Last year, the Legislature approved a fund that grants $20 million per spring training stadium over 30 years and $50 million for two-team stadiums over 37 1⁄2 years. Local governments have to match that amount.
This blog has gone into great depth about how the state incentives actually encourage Florida counties to try and out-spend each other, as well as re-allocate possible beach and marketing dollars to new stadiums.

But the new legislation would actually put taxpayers at a greater disadvantage by encouraging shorter spring training leases, thus encouraging more-frequent MLB demands for upgrades and more-frequent threats of relocation.


Update: As I watch more committee hearings on SB 1214 (around 51 minutes in that clip), it appears Latvala is pushing another change that would be a huge benefit to pro teams looking to leverage taxpayers.  Right now, if a team leaves a lease a few years early, they presumably owe damages on the entire contract.  Lavala wants to amend it so teams only have to pay damages on the years they bail out early, drastically reducing the incentive for teams to actually honor their contracts.  Can only imagine the Rays would stand to gain greatly from this law.

In that same hearing, Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, addressed criticisms of the bill with three counterpoints:
  1. "We are not giving (teams) money from the state revenue source unless they generate the sales tax."
  2. "Generally, these stadiums go in blighted areas initially, and it brings economic expansion around these stadiums."
  3. "It's a major lift of quality of life to see what goes on around these stadiums," citing Daytona Int'l Speedway and "Tampa Stadium" as examples.
Not sure if Simpson was referring to the quality of life around Raymond James Stadium (home of Mons Venus) or the much-criticized quality of life around Tropicana Field, but his home region isn't the best example of subsidy success stories.

It was also funny Simpson accidentally called the subsidies "giveaways" before correcting himself...but that was the most accurate thing he said during the whole hearing.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Rays to Portland? Fat Chance Pt. II

Following last fall's Shadow of the Stadium post on why the Rays won't be moving to Portland, Maury Brown of the Biz of Baseball provides more reasons why the campaign in Oregon is much more dream than reality.  The biggest of Portland's many problems is that, unlike in the early 2000s, there is no MLB-owned team actively seeking relocation:
This simple, yet critical aspect, is why any discussion of the A’s or Rays relocating is a non-starter. Because without that, what you have are owners trying to leverage a ballpark deal, first in their market, and then only with the blessing of the league and a clear message that says, “Team up for sale,” does relocation to a new market occur.
Brown also identifies the pesky Giants/Mariners TV rights issues, the lack of a suitable stadium option right now, and of course, the complete lack of funding for a future stadium.

And while Brown doesn't complete discount Portland as a possible future MLB market, he does contend plans are a loooong way from fruition:
It’s those damned details that are getting in the way of the fun. Details that move efforts from “dream” to something closer to “reality.” When I was first approached about this current effort, my biggest advice was “work quietly behind the scenes.” That in doing so, politicians, MLB, and owners like Lew Wolff would not be placed in an uncomfortable spot of having to publically address MLB to Portland before anything substantive had been pulled together.

As it was in 2003, so should it be now. When the Expos were up for relocation, it provided Portland an opportunity to take a detailed examination of the market and report the findings, regardless of what club might actually land here one day. Focus on the “market viability” not “baseball has a problem, and we have a solution that has no answers to the major questions.” The former, not the latter, is where efforts to bring MLB to Portland should be. Until then, the dream will likely continue.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Sensationalized Spring Training Supposition

The Grapefruit League's annual attendance recap made headlines this week, as 1.45 million fans passed through the turnstiles this spring.  The 6,882 average was just off last year's 6,965 average, thanks largely in part to weather and a lack of exhibition games at the 36,742-seat Marlins Park.

But a Tampa Tribune story goes looking for deeper meaning in the numbers, suggesting a nearly 200,000-fan drop from last year signifies more Florida teams will head to Arizona for spring training.

This is an aboslute baseless assumption that neglects basic facts:
  1. Attendance was down significantly in Arizona too.
  2. Teams are chosing to play fewer spring training games than in previous years.
  3. Arizona stadium capacities are significantly bigger than Florida's.
  4. Few East Coast/Midwest teams would ever consider training in Arizona.
The Trib even acknowledges some of these points, but still prints its sensationalized lede and headline, "Arizona outslugs Florida" in attendance (which was changed online to read, "Arizona edges Florida").

For a more thorough analysis of spring training numbers, the new Tampa Bay Baseball Market blog has been wonderful:
Follow them on Twitter...they're a good resource for Rays attendance stats throughout the season too!

Guest Blog from Reader Comments

I've always asked rhetorically, if it doesn't make economic sense for a private team owner to completely pay for his or her own stadium, why would it make sense for a municipality to do so?

Shadow of the Stadium reader Scott Myers, whom I wouldn't exactly call a Malcolm Glazer or Stu Sternberg sympathiser, elaborates on this point in response to a state effort to specify which professional teams and leagues will get tax dollars:
[I]f the project is capable of having a positive return on the state’s investment, why would any of these projects need state support at all? Why would the private entities applying want to share the profits with the government? So I do not see this as a good use of up to $12 million per year of taxpayers money.
I think it is interesting to note that the net worth of the 8 owners of the sports franchises (already receiving state subsidies) range from a minimum of $500 million to a maximum of $7.2 billion.
So instead of giving this money to billionaires, I suggest that these funds (up to $16 million) could be better spent on replacing broken down school buses, increasing the pay of special needs aides, reducing the cost of after school care for working parents, and other such 'mundane' needs.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Trib Editorial Backs Florida Stadium-Ranking Bill

This week, the editorial board of the Tampa Tribune penned a piece on proposed legislation that would force pro sports teams and leagues to "compete" for taxpayer subsidies, possibly even capping them at $12-$13 million per year:
The proposals make sense and should be supported by lawmakers. Agreeing on a process for evaluating funding requests puts each of the teams on equal footing. It gives the owners and the fans in a particular city a better understanding of why a request is approved or denied, and it establishes accountability measures to ensure the teams are living up to their end of the bargain.

Professional sports is big business in Florida, and the state can justify making sensible investments in the facilities where the teams play. Successful teams generate sales tax revenue and attract overnight visitors who pay bed taxes. The teams also help promote the state and the cities where they play.
The question about laws passed during Florida's short 60-day legislative session is always about unintended consequences.  Will this bill actually make it harder for teams to prove their economic impact to the state...or easier?

The Trib explains a new Orlando MLS team will bring Florida's major league franchise total to 10, plus 33 minor-league teams and 15 spring training teams.
The state already awards $2 million in sales taxes each year for the facilities where eight of the major league sports franchises play, including Tropicana Field and Raymond James Stadium. The bills being considered would replace the piecemeal process of awarding the state money and replace it with a defined set of rules for teams to follow.

The state’s Department of Economic Opportunity would rank the proposals based on a team’s ability to have a positive impact on the state. Among the criteria: the length of time a team has agreed to use the stadium; the number of signature events a facility is likely to host; a facility’s multiuse capabilities; how many Floridians a facility is projected to employ; and how well it will draw tourists.
Ranking the proposals is great...but will the state still give the money out if none of the proposals are terribly convincing?  Will the state do its own economic studies or trust the team's rosy projections?

Will Florida consider factors like likelihood of relocating (Rays slightly higher than NASCAR) or the team's financial committment (Dolphins spending more than the Bucs)?

These are questions that seldom get answered in Tallahassee in the rush to push through legislation.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Column: Selig, MLB are Victimizing Rays, Tampa Bay

Howard Bryant from ESPN The Magazine, who penned this gem from 2011, delivers another great take on the Tampa Bay Rays in 2014:
By almost all standards, the Rays are doing it the Right Way; the only one they've failed to meet is extracting a new stadium from taxpayers, which happens to be the only one that matters on Park Avenue. Their reward for all this is being ignored by the commissioner's office, which has declined to consider a number of inventive options to sustain the Rays economically and competitively.

When Tampa Bay was granted a franchise, the other owners split up $130 million in expansion fees. The problems the Rays have now -- difficult geography, terrible stadium, transplanted fan base with allegiances to other teams -- existed from the beginning, but baseball's leadership paid no mind. The short money was available, and Bud Selig and the owners took it.
Bryant has sympathy for neither Major League Baseball nor Bud Selig. And much like I wrote in 2011, the fact that the Rays may ultimately lose guys like David Price and why they may not be able to compete with the Red Sox and Yankees in the long-term is not the fault of Rays fans, but the fault of the league.

But Bryant does have sympathy for Rays’ owner Stu Sternberg and his push to re-organize the draft order based on revenues, not records.  And the possibility of re-aligning divisions based on revenues:
Tampa Bay's owner may enjoy beating out big-money teams for a playoff spot, as the Rays did last season, but he'd much rather leave the AL East, where his team will forever be at a massive payroll disadvantage to the Red Sox ($163 million) and Yankees ($203 million). The solution is staring Selig in the face. With a $162 million payroll (fifth in MLB), Detroit is a big-spending club. Baseball could realign and move the Tigers back to the AL East, where they resided from 1969 to 1997, with the Rays shifting to the AL Central and fighting only one megamarket team, Chicago. But baseball has ignored this conversation too.

In our many discussions on this topic over the years, Selig has professed to me his interest in the future of small-market clubs, pointing out that he's a former owner of one himself. But his inaction speaks louder than his words -- the man who was able to quickly introduce instant replay and interleague play has only two stalled economic committees to show for the issues in Oakland and Tampa Bay that have existed for nearly 20 years. But it's a problem that can't be sidestepped forever. Baseball and Tampa Bay are stuck with each other, and if leadership is more than just a slogan, Selig and his office should be considering creative ways to sustain the Rays instead of the current plan: waiting for an unfair system to run a good team into the ground.
Meanwhile, ESPN’s Buster Olney, who in the past has criticized anyone who criticizes Rays fans for watching on TV instead of in-person, indicated MLB is choosing to let their huge “problems” in Tampa Bay and Oakland go unresolved:
If baseball’s owners and Selig don’t feel the need to strong-arm the Giants into making the best possible territory deal they can make and carve out a home for the Athletics in San Jose, Calif., that’s their choice. Until Major League Baseball -- the teams and the central office -- places the Athletics’ status at the top of its to-do list and prepares all the necessary horse-trading, nothing will change.
Of course, he name-dropped Montreal, Portland, and Nashville too as possible future homes of the Rays, so there’s that.

By the way, for those of you claiming traffic is bad in St. Pete....

Monday, April 7, 2014

Kriseman, Silverman Chit-Chat About Stuff

Sometimes, you just happen to be out of town when there’s news to be blogged about.

That’s the situation I found myself in when Christopher O’Donnell reported St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman met with Rays President Matt Silverman last week (sans Stu Sternberg).  So, better late than never:
“I think we made good progress today,” Kriseman said. “We’re having very open and honest dialogue with each other.”

The hourlong unannounced meeting, the second Kriseman has had with the team since taking office in January, was at the Trop ahead of the Rays’ game against the
Texas Rangers.

Kriseman said both sides have agreed to keep talks confidential. Talks in 2013 between the Rays and former Mayor Bill Foster stalled after city leaders claimed that Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig had instructed the Rays not to offer the city any compensation if it broke its contract.

“Both sides have agreed we are going to keep our conversations in confidence and private so we can continue to have a solid element of trust in each other, so we can make progress,” Kriseman said.
A day earlier, Kriseman was slated to meet with one of his closest allies and stadium advisors, St. Pete businessman Craig Sher.  And a day before that, the Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board fired a shot across the bow in many ways {link to Times' site}, warning that sooner or later, it expects the mayor to solve the Stadium Saga (among other issues):
Vision statements, pillars and values are good. The bigger questions for residents remain what concrete steps the new mayor will take to replace the Pier, resolve the baseball stadium stalemate, build a police headquarters, hire a new police chief, bring jobs to downtown …

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Opening Day Stadium Leftovers

Didn't have enough time or room in Monday's significant post to squeeze in all of the comments and takeaways from Opening Day, but my WTSP colleague Eric Glasser covered some good ones.  Like this from St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman, calling again on Tampa fans to help the Stadium Saga, not hurt it:
"If there's not support from that side of the Bay it's pretty tough for Major League Baseball to think that just moving across the Bay is gonna change anything," he says.
Also, Rays owner Matt Silverman struck a nice tone (maybe he read this post?) on all his local television appearances.  He basically avoided the scare tactics and reminded fans that basically, "we're all in this together."

Glasser continues:
"Our home is Tampa Bay and we're gonna make it work here," says Silverman, "and we appreciate every single fan who comes out and enjoys the game."

Silverman hopes moves the team is making will be enough to draw new fans to buy tickets, but he also wants those who've already shown loyalty to show just a little bit more if they can swing it.

"If each fan came to one more game per year it would make a big difference and we wouldn't be having these conversations," he says. 
The more the region discusses productive solutions and the less people mention boogeymen like Charlotte, Vegas, and Montreal, the better off we all are.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

USF Athletics Balancing Budget on the Backs of Students

Mark Harlon found his plate very full very quickly when he officially started as USF's new athletic director in March.

He inherited a basketball team without a coach, a struggling football team, and sagging attendance numbers at Raymond James Stadium. But beyond the obvious issues, Harlon also inherited an athletics budget balanced on the backs of students, regardless of whether they ever set foot inside a single stadium.

Through public records requests, 10 Investigates obtained athletic budgets from Florida's largest public universities. And few major athletic departments -- anywhere in the country -- rely as heavily on student fees as USF.

Last year, USF Athletics reported $44.6 million in expenses, but $16.2 million were covered by student fees. At $14.73 per credit hour plus a $10 flat rate charge, the average student on USF's Tampa campus will spend $444 a year -- nearly $1,800 by the time they graduate -- supplementing the athletics budget.

As USF faces constant pressure to avoid tuition hikes and cut academic spending, even the once-threatened nighttime hours at its library, the athletics department's appetite for spending has continued to grow. The Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, a national group dedicated to preserving academic balance in college sports, has been critical recently of universities that have over-emphasized varsity sports.

LOOKUP: Any university's athletic, academic spending

USF's athletic fees are larger than any of the other fees most students on the Tampa campus will pay, including the health fee ($9.94/credit hour) and campus activities and services fee ($12.08/credit hour). Students pay an average of $3,250 a year in various fees on top of tuition.

For more, continue reading on WTSP.com.

Sternberg: Time is Ticking on Trop

Rays owner Stu Sternberg had a lot of reason to smile Monday, his team's 9-2 win over the Blue Jays not withstanding.  New Tropicana Field improvements were a hit, the team raised another banner to the roof, and Sternberg is getting along swimmingly so far with new St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman according to the Tampa Tribune:
“Progress isn’t going to happen with one meeting or another,’’ Sternberg said. “It’s going to happen with like minds coming together and figuring out what’s best for the citizens of St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay and Florida in general. I do think things will happen. We’ve been at this seven years, with a few different mayors. I feel most confident in what the mayor has done so far and I think the city is poised for some incredible things.

“The clock is ticking and it’s loudly ticking, but it has been ticking loudly for a few years. Every day that goes by is another day closer to when a decision will have to be made.’’
The "clock ticking" echoes the Tampa Bay Times' Monday editorial urging the region to talk baseball money ASAP before they're spent on other quality-of-life and economic projects.  But there's also another clock ticking for the Rays.
While some public money may disappear in the next few years, the Rays are expecting a windfall of cash when they can renegotiate their TV contract in 2017.  That would certainly make it easier to pay for a new stadium with their own, private funds, right?
Sternberg rejected any notion that a new stadium would be paid entirely with private funds.
Welp, forget that.  The Rays must be hoping to get stadium financing in place BEFORE new TV money makes it harder for them to cry poor.  But at least Sternberg should be thrilled with his TV ratings, reportedly in MLB's top-10, right?
“I focus on the people who are here, not the ones who are not here, and we focus on the people who are engaged on television, on the radio, on the Internet, reading the papers, reading the blogs,’’ said Sternberg. “The TV side of it, the ratings are nothing to scoff at and it’s something that has continued to give us the belief that major-league baseball can thrive in the region."