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.


  1. Think of all this as a movie...
    The "ernest" politicians at heir desks creating much heat and noise and then fade to Bud "the grease" sitting at his Milwaukee desk snickering "...keep at it boys..." like a cross between Simon LeGree and Mr. Burns. Whoever eventually takes his place won't be any different, suckers!

  2. and they call themselves conservatives?