"We may not like that public dollars were used to build (Raymond James Stadium)," said Tampa City Councilman Mike Suarez, "But this will save us money in the long run."
Several councilmembers praised county negotiators, who scored several small financial concessions from the team in exchange for allowing them to play preseason "home" games away from Raymond James Stadium. They also refused to give in to the Buccaneers' request to reduce the number of regular-season home games they're required to play in Tampa.
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The Bucs are committing to spend at least $59 million on top of the $29 million from the county's tourist taxes. However, the team will retain the large majority of new revenues from the upgrades and it is also seeking $12 million from the state.
Buccaneers Chief Operating Officer Brian Ford, who declined public comment during the year-long negotiation process, told reporters he was excited the team can move forward with construction plans and it will be a win-win-win for the team, taxpayers, and fans alike.
"At the end of the day, it was a true partnership," Ford said. "There were some obligations (by the county) that needed to take place and we wanted to enhance those improvements."
Ford dismissed the team's request for a second regular-season home game away from Raymond James Stadium as "sensationalized."
"The facts are that this is a very positive project and we're all going to reap the benefits from it...I hope today is a celebration for everyone in Tampa and the Hillsborough community and we're looking forward to getting this project underway."
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When asked why the team wouldn't consider extending its lease past its current 2027 end date, Ford said it's too soon to consider such a thing.
"At this point, we're only midway into the contract and it's not really the time that we felt (to extend)...I would hope that the end-result of this ($100 million project)...and the $9 million that we put (into the stadium) at the start of the 2014 season is a clear indication of our commitment to the city and the county."
Ford added fans of non-sporting events such as concerts and truck events will benefit from the upgraded video boards, concessions, and club seats too.
The lone dissenting vote came from veteran councilmember Charlie Miranda, who donned an all-black suit with black shirt and black tie, just as he did countless time in the mid-1990s during Buccaneers' stadium public financing debates
"Not even Donald Trump...would do this deal like this, because it's a bad deal," said Miranda during an entertaining 10-minute-long rant. "It is not about the sport; it's about the revenue at that stadium that you pay for and (the Bucs) take the revenue.
"It's time this county - not (just) Tampa - understands that you're getting robbed; not with a gun, but with a pen."
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With the final approval, the Bucs are expected to break ground on the renovations in January and have half of the construction - including the video boards - complete by the start of the 2016 football season.
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