Monday, June 30, 2014

Times Editorial Board: Save Pinellas Tax Money for New Stadium

In case you missed it, the Tampa Bay Times editorial board took another crack at the Stadium Saga this weekend, arguing Pinellas County should dismiss any notion of rehabbing Tropicana Field...yet it should still preserve bed tax revenues in case a possible new Rays stadium can be built on the West side of the bay.

The editorial called for Mayor Rick Kriseman and the Rays to step up their game on advancing the stadium talks before Pinellas' bed taxes are distributed to other possible worthy projects {link to Times' site}.  An excerpt:
Too many years already have passed without directly addressing the Rays' obvious need for a new stadium to replace the outdated Trop. Kriseman and Rays officials have been meeting privately to negotiate an agreement that would enable the team to look for potential stadium sites in both Pinellas and Hillsborough counties. The signals are encouraging, and a deal should be possible by the end of the year. Then the Rays presumably would need about two years to evaluate sites in both counties. While the Rays clearly would prefer to be in Tampa, the team has not ruled out Pinellas.
"By the end of the year" may be wishful thinking...or it may just be an extention of the Times' deadline for when it loses patience with Kriseman.
Yet St. Petersburg and Pinellas could play themselves out of contention if county officials divide up the bed tax money that now pays the Trop bonds. Without it, Pinellas would have no hope of cobbling together the revenue streams to help pay for a stadium that could cost more than $500 million.
I've always maintained Pinellas is in far better position to pay for a possible new stadium since its bed tax revenues are far greater than Hillsborough's.   Not to mention, land is plentiful in the Gateway/Mid-Pinellas region.
If the consensus is the Pinellas bed tax money could be better spent on other projects besides a baseball stadium, that's one thing. But don't let that decision be made by avoiding any talk of baseball. And don't play games by trying to peel off bed tax money for a roof on an outdated stadium.
There's nothing wrong with pressing for more productive talks...unless you don't think taxpayers should pay for a new stadium at all with 14 years left on the current stadium contract.

But the latest chapter in the Stadium Saga, including Mayor Rick Kriseman's half-hearted suggestion of renovating The Trop, is indicative of his difficult position between a rock and a hard place.  If he allows the Rays to break their contract, he very well may be doing his constituents and city a disservice.  But if he doesn't, he'll get the "Bill Foster treatment" from the region's largest newspaper.

It's also interesting the Times suggests taking such a close look at Pinellas' tourist tax monies.

If the editorial board really thinks Rays want to be in Tampa, then preserving the revenues does nothing more than preserve the inevitable bidding war between Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties - something devastating for the taxpayers, but ideal for the Rays.

If the editorial board really thinks the Rays could end up in Pinellas' Gateway region for the long-term, then it would seem to be a slightly new take from the group that has always pushed for St Pete's mayor to let the team explore its Tampa options.

Unless its a combination of the two prospects...and the Times just wants Pinellas to save its pennies up to help pay for a new Rays stadium in Tampa?

1 comment:

  1. 1 step closer! "Channelside Live", the future pre & post game hangout for ALL Lightning & Rays games...