Saturday, November 8, 2014

Is Anyone in Tampa Bay Ready to Address Elephant In the Room - How to Pay for a New Rays Stadium?

I've long-contended the Rays' Stadium Saga has not focused enough attention on how to pay for a new ballpark. It's more evident than ever this morning, as Jerome Stockfish of the Tampa Tribune wrote about the $3M/yr in state stadium subsidies that might one day be available for a new Rays stadium (although MLB is currently not eligible for new funds).

The Rays already tap into the fund to the tune of $2M/yr, so these are not newly-discovered funds. They are also not nearly enough to pay for a stadium, despite what the article's headline suggests.

Furthermore, the article suggests the money would be available for the next 30 years, totaling $90 million.  But the way financing work, this revenue might only bond $30-$36 million in present-day construction costs.

The money sure would help, but we are still a LONG way from figuring out how to pay for a new Rays stadium.

$36M from the state, plus $150M from either Pinellas or Tampa taxes, plus maybe $200M from the team still leaves you $100M short of an inexpensive fixed-roof stadium.

If St Pete has to be compensated for early contract termination, as Hillsborough and Tampa leaders have suggested, the gap gets even bigger. 

So how do you close that gap if nobody will talk about it?  It's pretty clear the Rays are hoping someone else figures that problem out for them. Or else, Boogeyman.


  1. Naming rights are going for ~$20M? Is there some business' that can pledge ~$40-50M in support in terms of long term private box rentals or sales? With the rest of the diff split between gov't and owner.

    That stuff is relatively standard operating procedures for new stadium construction. I assume the big trick is going to be the $150M+ from Tampa, and when they'll be able to negotiate it.

  2. St. Pete needs to help pay for a new ballpark in Tampa. That's the least the city can do for inconveniencin the Rays. St. Pete owes the Rays an apology. They need to cough at least $150 million for a new ballpark in Tampa!!!

  3. St. Pete doesn't owe the Rays crap.. I'm all for a stadium in downtown Tampa and I think it's ridiculous everyone wants a stadium on our side in Hillsborough, but runs and hides in a corner whenever public financing is discussed. The man you're really peeved with is Vince Namolli-- he's the idiot that signed that 30 year lease with St. Pete. Can you blame St. Pete, really? A deal is a deal.

  4. Financing is the easiest piece of this puzzle.

  5. Financing is the easiest piece of the puzzle. St Pete's revenue from redeveloping the trop site will likely be the negotiated compensation for premature termination of the original agreement. Downtown St Pete has never been hotter for developers, and that will not persist in it is not at all clear at this point that a new stadium will not be somewhere in St Pete, if it is elsewhere, the city should come out fine. That is true, if we believe Noah, and the economic quacks who claim the economic impact of the Rays is negligible.

    Now, add a hotel tax, rental car tax, cruise tax, and public venue ticket taxes, and you are at $300 MM. Mix in $200-300 MM from the team, and now add $100 MM in State funds, leaving about $300,000,000, which can be financed with public bonds, some incremental local tax, naming rights ($100 MM for that alone), or some combination.

    1. Why don't we just tax the limo companies too? I'm sure that would be easy too?

    2. I also have to question your accuracy, Rick. There is not $100M available for construction of a stadium; $3M/yr for 30yrs only bonds $30-40M toward construction.

      Financing would also not be easy for a number of reasons:

      1) Hotel taxes cannot be raised in Hillsborough without changing the state law.
      2) Rental car taxes cannot be raise without changing the state law, and they would also face legit competition from the transit interests that might target them.
      3) Teams generally resist ticket taxes, since it comes out of their bottom line.
      4) You claim $300M would be easy by just financing with public bonds and "some incremental local tax." There is nothing easy nor popular about that, even if it came off a Rays' World Series win.

      In fact, winning the world series may be easier than many of the things you mentioned....