Sunday, November 1, 2015

Sunday in the Stadium Saga: City Council Elections and Where Rays Payout Money Might Go

A smattering of stories this weekend about the Rays and Tuesday's impending city council elections, including the Tampa Tribune summary of how the Stadium Saga could hang in the balance and the Tampa Bay Times piece forecasting low voter turnout.  And the Times had an editorial that advocated for more financial concessions from St. Pete.

We also saw the Trib reinforce its endorsements for Charlie Gerdes, Steve Kornell, and Will Newton, despite the fact that it doesn't agree with the stadium stances taken by Kornell and Newton.  (The Times endorsed both of their opponents based solely on the stadium issue)

ALSO READ: In trying to advance their interests, newspapers may do opposite with endorsements

But the most interesting article of the weekend was from Chris O'Donnell in the pages of the Trib: Who benefits if Rays leave town?

One thing we know for sure is the beneficiaries would not include the St. Pete businesses that enjoy the crowds from 81 home games a year; none more than Ferg's Sports Bar, whose owner told the Trib he'd lose $2 million per year if the Rays leave St. Pete, forcing him to lay off 40% of his employees.

But across St. Pete as a whole, O'Donnell writes there could be little financial loss from a Rays departure since residents and visitors might be just as likely to spend their available discretionary income on other entertainment in the city.

"Most sports economists explain this as a consequence of substitute spending," O'Donnell wrote.  "Money spent by fans at bars and restaurants around a stadium likely would have been spent going to movies or other restaurants anyway."

So while some businesses would lose, others might win.  Sadly for the businesses that lose, they'd not likely see any direct revenues from a Rays payoff to St. Pete:
When other cities have lost professional sports franchises, they did little for surrounding businesses.

Seattle was paid a $45 million settlement by the Sonics in 2008 so the team could move to Oklahoma City. Most of the money — about $34 million — was used to pay off outstanding construction loans on the KeyArena. The city also used $2.8 million to pay legal bills for the litigation and about $6 million for capital improvement projects at the KeyArena and surrounding Seattle Center.

Pontiac, Michigan, received a settlement of $26 million in 2001 after suing the Detroit Lions for breaking their Silverdome lease. The money went into the city’s general fund.  
Paying to demolish the Trop likely would be the first priority for the city since the center has required an average yearly subsidy of $1.4 million.

It may also have to pay for new roads, sidewalks and other infrastructure to configure the stadium site and its enormous parking lot into an area suitable for development.

That may not be cheap. Tampa this year agreed for one of its community redevelopment agencies to pay $30 million to modernize infrastructure at a much smaller site around Amalie Arena as preparation for Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik’s proposed $2 billion redevelopment project.

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  1. "One thing we know for sure is that it's not St. Pete businesses that enjoy the crowds from 81 home games a year; none more than Ferg's Sports Bar, whose owner told the Trib he'd lose $2 million per year if the Rays leave St. Pete, forcing him to lay off 40% of his employees."

    Uhmmm, I'm confused here Noah... why would it NOT be St Pete businesses that enjoy the benefits of the 15k or so fans attending? Afterall, Ferg's is IN St Pete... they're on Central Ave. Or did you Google the wrong one? I've been there a handful of times after games at the Trop! They'd be fine - Rays or no Rays

    1. I might have been able to write that more clearly, but read it again.....the previous paragraph asks "Who benefits if Rays leave town?"

      So its those businesses that would not benefit from the departure.

    2. A journalist needs to be clear in their writing.

    3. Readers need to be smarter in their reading :)

    4. Actually, the onus is on the journalist, Noah. Nice try.