Thursday, November 20, 2014

Buckhorn Retreats More from Rays Stadium Flirtations

Yesterday, Mitch Perry - formerly of Creative Loafing, now working in the political blogosphere - wrote about Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn's likely approach toward a new Rays stadium.  And as this blog has started to document, the mayor has muted his longtime support for a Downtown Tampa baseball stadium:

2011: Buckhorn says Downtown Tampa is best location for new stadium
2011: New stadium in Downtown Tampa "would be absolutely transformative"
2012: New stadium may be only three years away
2012: Next stadium "needs to be in Downtown Tampa"
2013: Rays stadium "integral" to Channelside redevelopment
2013: It's Downtown Tampa or nothing for a new stadium in Tampa

Obviously, more recently, Buckhorn acknowledged a new USF Medical School (1/6 the cost of a new stadium) could be a much bigger & better fit for Downtown Tampa.

That said, there still is one very promising piece of land for a stadium downtown - the home of the old (but still operating) ConAgra plant.  But Buckhorn tells Perry relocating ConAgra could add $70 million to the price of the project:
“I’m still committed, given the opportunity, to focus on an urban stadium. I think what MLB and the Rays want. I think there are other sites in downtown that could work,” he says, including the Tampa Park Plaza area running north of Channelside toward Ybor City on Nebraska Avenue.
But outside of the downtown core, there are few city TIF/CRA property tax dollars available for a stadium.  Perry continues:
[I]n the aftermath of Greenlight’s wipeout, Buckhorn says flatly that he would not propose a referendum to pay for any construction costs because “it won’t pass.”

“I think this will be a monumental lift to find a financing mechanism that would work,” he said. “I think the Rays would have to come to the table with serious money. I think it would have to be a smaller stadium, 30,000-35,000. I think the financing would be multi-layered from multiple sources. It’s not going to be simple like Raymond James (Stadium) was, which was one source of revenue that’s bondable over 30 years.”
Buckhorn will sit on a stadium search committee with county commissioner Ken Hagan should St. Pete come to an agreement with the Rays allowing a search.

But dreams of a Downtown Tampa stadium may be giving way to the realization that something closer to the Howard Frankland Bridge (and future bay bridges) may be a better option.

Also, for Buckhorn, one of the state's brightest future political stars, it may not be in his best career interests to stick his neck out on this issue and take unnecessary political risks in his second term.


  1. "Flirtations", as if he/they don't have a clue who/what/when/and why the Rays will move to Channelside...

    1. The Vinik developments have put your foolishness on full display in recent months Dufala, and you haven't even been posting much!

      Welcome back.