Wednesday, May 6, 2015

County Commissioner Wants Teams to Prove Fanbase Before Getting New Stadiums...Unless You're Talking About Rays

How’s this for irony?

Hillsborough Commissioner Ken Hagan, the leading cheerleader for a new Rays stadium in Tampa, said today there should be no new stadium until the team can prove it can better-fill its current stadium.  However, that team he was talking about was the USF football team.

More on that irony: just like the Rays, USF has been rumored to be exploring a stadium closer to its fan base (on-campus) because its current home, Raymond James Stadium, lacks the proximity and atmosphere of its peers.

But when those rumors of USF exploring a site across the street, where the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) currently sits, Hagan “admonished those salivating at potential uses for the county land.” {link to Times’ site} Steve Contorno writes:
"I know how special it is to have a stadium on campus, and I fully support looking for ways to have that occur but let's not put the cart in front of the horse," Hagan said. "In my opinion, their performance and attendance must drastically improve before we can seriously talk about a stadium."

That drew scorn from Commissioner Victor Crist, who said Hagan's ongoing efforts to bring the Tampa Bay Rays to Hillsborough County undermined his argument.

"As far as athletics, well, that's not my venue, but one thing I do know is Mr. Hagan, you've been pushing for baseball, and frankly they haven't filled their seats, either," said Crist, a USF alumnus. "So the argument that USF football has empty seats I think is an unfounded one."

Hagan retorted that Crist was right: "Athletics is not your purview."
Of course, USF had little to say about the commission spat, but Athletic Director Mark Harlan has indicated an on-campus football stadium is on his long-term radar.

I've gone in-depth over the years about the budget woes of the USF athletic department.  In fact, the department had to take a loan out from the school's general revenue funds to balance its 2014 budget.

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  1. Does USF currently get any taxpayer money from Hillsborough County?

  2. If MOSI gets moved to downtown, who pays for the move? Who pays for the demolition of MOSI at its current site? Who pays for the new MOSI site and its building?

  3. Out of all the things a government could consider undertaking, why are stadiums so trendy right now? Out of an entire universe of possibilities, why are governments falling all over themselves to hand over public land/money/time for stadium projects? Is it an ego thing, a legacy thing? Hey I got this built, so look how important I was? Is it simply the worst excesses of public-choice theory (i.e. re-election matters above all else)? Ken Hagan's words and actions continue to reflect poorly on his character, such as it is. Ew, his palms must be so greasy.

  4. Stadium or not, if MOSI moves then USF should acquire the property for future expansion of some type. An opportunity to expand an estaablished university campus to adjacent property is pretty rare.