Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Despite Aquarium Priorities, Pinellas Remains New Rays Stadium Frontrunner

The Tampa Tribune's Chris O'Donnell has the latest installment of the "Rays better ask Pinellas County for money soon if they want it" story. We first heard this story back in 2012, but here are excerpts of the latest chapter:
Pinellas County commissioners on Tuesday vote on amendments to their tourism development plan that would allow bed taxes to be used for construction of a new aquarium, a move that could open the way for the taxes to go toward Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s $160 million expansion plan.
Further hindering the Rays is that while they are tied up in negotiations, projects competing for a share of the taxes are moving ahead. State lawmakers awarded $2 million for the aquarium project from the state’s proposed $77 billion budget. The $1.2 million lawmakers allocated for a proposed Olympic BMX facility in Oldsmar, however, could mean the city will not apply for bed taxes if the item survives Gov. Rick Scott’s veto pen.
(Bed) taxes also are viewed as a crucial part of publicly funding a sports stadiums, not least because the tax is levied on tourists and not residents, making it an easier sell for local politicians concerned about re-election.
O'Donnell added that beach renourishment may be an increasingly-greater priority for the county as questions arise about cuts to federal funding. A Shadow of the Stadium post back in March foreshadowed the impending conflict between stadium subsidies and beach dollars.

But the silver lining for Pinellas County is it can still add another penny to its tourist tax since its a "high-impact" tourism county. Hillsborough County is not. And that penny could be bonded out to about $100 million for construction/infrastructure purposes. Which, on top of existing stadium revenue streams, is why Pinellas remains the favorite to (one day) build the Rays a replacement home.

So if the Rays ever getting around to asking Pinellas County for money, there is still hope...unless, of course, MLB fails to address recently-passed legislation that punishes it for its current Cuban policy...or Pinellas County decides to throw its available money at a new stadium for the Rowdies...

1 comment:

  1. Here's an idea . . . howsabout we stop soaking the tourists?

    Just a thought.