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:
But outside of the downtown core, there are few city TIF/CRA property tax dollars available for a stadium. Perry continues:“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.
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.[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.”
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.