Friday, April 3, 2015

Just How Sweet was the Glazers' Sweetheart Deal?

The elected leaders in Hillsborough County keep saying, "there will never be another sweetheart deal like the Bucs"...but nobody realized it was a "sweetheart" deal in the 90's when they thought it was the only way to keep their football team.

So just how sweet is that deal?

Well, consider this - according to William Levesque's article in the Times this week, the taxpayer-backed Tampa Sports Authority has to assume all the risk of holding concerts at the taxpayer-owned Raymond James Stadium...but if there happens to be profits left over at the end...the Bucs get half!

No risk, half the reward!  Pretty sweet!

Taxpayers have such a raw deal at RayJay, even a monster act like Taylor Swift may only net the Tampa Sports Authority a few hundred thousand dollars after expenses and the Glazers' cut.

Compounding the problem?  Taxpayers keep building "one-of-a-kind" venues to compete with all their other one-of-a-kind venues.

My WTSP-TV colleague Eric Glasser writes, of the five or six major concert venues along the I-4 corridor, "the venues may, at times, have to outbid each other for some of those big-name acts. And that, in some cases, could mean giving away more of the concert proceeds than they in the past."

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  1. Noah, the deal is even sweeter than you say for the Glazers - they get 100% of the first $2 million for non-Bucs events, and then 50% for everything above that. See

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  3. Ugh, and they are so bad at football. There is no reason that cities could not negotiate performance clawbacks. The Glazers woefully under-invested in the team for several years, and the franchise is still feeling the effects.

    Similarly, the Marlins got a new stadium approved and then sold off most of the talent.

    This is just a reminder that quality baseball and football have been the rare exception in the Tampa Bay area. Look, I loved Quinton McCracken and (sober) Wade Boggs and Rolando Arrojo as much as the next guy, but for 10 years the team did not win 70 games, let alone finishing at .500. The point is that a new stadium guarantees very little as to the product on the field (and the growing of the fanbase), but corporate contracts have performance conditions all of the time (true-ups, cash bonuses, stock options, clawbacks) and maybe this is something cities/counties should be considering. City helps buy a new stadium, team guarantees an average number of wins across a certain period. This is a way of ensuring that ownership is focused on the baseball product and not strip malls/Manchester United (Glazers) or Blockbuster Video (Huizenga--I know he's gone and wasn't related to the most recent Marlins fire-sale), after they have secured a new playpen. It would be a performance clawback, which protects the municipality from subsidizing a crap product. It also would call b--- s--- on the blame-the-stadium argument.

  4. How would you describe the Rays deal then? The Glazers pay over $3 million a year to TSA for Bucs games. The Rays pay something like half of that to St. Pete. And St. Pete's current annual payment on the Tropicana Field debt is over $10 million per year.

  5. The debt on Tropicana Field was incurred before the Rays existed as a Franchise. By every calculation, having an MLB team play in the stadium is better for the City and County than paying off an empty and deteriorating stadium.