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.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?
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 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.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?
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.
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.