Monday, November 23, 2015

The Stadium Saga Business Squeezed in Before Thanksgiving

UPDATE: According to Tracy McManus, commissioners basically voted to spend 60% of new revenue on promotion until there's a need for something they deem more important. They did not vote on the requested ordinance to lock in the radio permanently.

We already knew how the Tampa Bay Times editorial board would like Pinellas County Commissioners to spend their new bed tax revenues...but why not pen another Monday morning editorial urging commissioners to reject the calls to commit a full 60 percent of the tourist tax to tourism advertising and promotion?

Because committing 60 percent of the new, sixth penny of tax (as they've done with the previous five cents) would reduce the county's ability to bond a baseball stadium:
[I]f St. Petersburg and Pinellas County are serious about trying to keep the Rays, it may take more than that to help pay for a new stadium that could cost $500 million. Yet just as it appears the St. Petersburg City Council will finally have the votes to break the stadium stalemate early next year and allow the Rays to look in both Pinellas and Hillsborough counties, the Pinellas commission could lose leverage by locking in now how the resort tax money can be spent.
"Resort tax" is a fancy way of saying "Shhh! nobody will notice it's a tax because tourists pay it!"

Also, since when does the Times case about preserving leverage?!?
The Rays are not the only issue. The Tampa Bay Rowdies are expected to seek resort tax money to build a stadium in St. Petersburg. The Clearwater Marine Aquarium wants to expand its home, and it's a safe bet that opportunities to help museums expand will come up, just as one did a few years ago to help the DalĂ­ Museum complete its new home. The Toronto Blue Jays need a new spring training facility to replace their outdated home in Dunedin. Then there is the ambitious proposal to build a massive sports complex on a former county landfill that would include a new spring training home for the Atlanta Braves. That also would require resort tax money.
The Rowdies "ask," of course, was first forecasted by this blog in early 2014.  But that's not to dismiss the Times' important point about lots of hungry mouths to feed in Pinellas County.  And that tourist tax money can only be spent on a few specific things, such as facility construction, tourism marketing/advertising, and all-important beach renourishment. 

Wait, why is nobody talking about possibly spending the money on the health of the beaches, the single-biggest tourism-driver in Pinellas County?!?
Tourism is a huge economic driver for Pinellas, and it takes smart advertising and promotion to continue to lure more visitors. But it would be shortsighted to reserve at least 60 percent of a higher resort tax for that purpose when so many projects are in flux. County commissioners should reject putting that 60 percent in concrete on Tuesday and insist on more flexibility — or risk limiting their ability to help keep the Rays, preserve and enhance spring training and capitalize on other opportunities.
Well, it'll be an interesting off-season regardless, with St. Pete council expected to open the floodgates on stadium talks in January.  Stay tuned.

ALSO READ: Some Pinellas Commissioners Sang Different Stadium Tunes on Campaign Trail
ALSO READ: What St. Pete's Election Means to the Rays' Stadium Saga

A brief history of Times editorials on the Stadium Saga:
And a bevy of Bill-Foster bashing too: Oct. 2013 | Sept. 2013 | Sept. 2013 | Feb 2013 |Feb 2013 | Jan 2013 | Jan 2013 | Oct 2012 | April 2012
The history goes further back than that, but for a good synopsis, watch my 2010 piece on newspapers cheerleading for new stadium projects.

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1 comment:

  1. On a side note, Forbes just released their 2015 evaluation of NHL's franchises value.

    So here is TB Lightning estimate.

    Considering the Lightning is very popular in TB, good crowds, good TV contract, operating income is -1.4M!

    What does those numbers says about TB sports market?