Tuesday, December 16, 2014

What (If Anything) Vinik's Plans Mean for Rays' Stadium Dreams

This blog has long claimed that Jeff Vinik would prefer to build a Downtown Tampa entertainment empire without baseball.

In fact, as nasty comments from my beloved readers attest, I was in the minority for a long time. 

But today, the Lightning's owner unveiled his "master plan" for Downtown and the Channel District, and he drove one more nail into the coffin of a possible baseball stadium on his land:
Thalji and Ashley Kritzer from the Tampa Bay Biz Journal did a bang-up job this morning explaining Vinik's vision 140 characters at a time.  Follow them for more specifics.

But what does this all mean for those other potential sites in Tampa eyed for a potential Rays stadium?

Well, all roads to a Tampa stadium now go through Vinikville - even if it's not on Vinik's land.

See, any potential stadium revenue streams (tourist taxes, CRA/TIF money, etc) could also go toward Amalie Arena and/or Vinikville projects.  Which means all roads to baseball now go through Vinikville:
After he fronted more than $45 million of his own money to fix up the arena, Vinik indicated he wouldn't mind recouping some through the bed tax and/or Downtown CRA.  And he's in such good-graces of the elected leaders in Tampa/Hillsborough County that it's safe to assume any big retail/stadium project anywhere near downtown would all-but-require Vinik's blessing.

That's another challenging hurdle (in addition to that whole funding thing) standing in the way of a Tampa ballpark.

UPDATE: Mayor Buckhorn confirmed what this blog has long-assumed: infrastructure around Vinik's projects in Downtown Tampa & the Channel District will rely on CRA/TIF money.

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