Saturday, January 23, 2016

Be Careful, St. Pete, Stadium-Chasing Can Cost You (Politically)

Later today, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman will give his annual State of the City address, likely heralding the bright redevelopment future of Tropicana Field. 

Courtesy: Creative Loafing
But how much is Kriseman willing to spend trying to make baseball a part of that future?  The Tampa Tribune's Steven Girardi recapped this morning the sentiment Kriseman expressed to me last summer: St. Pete is willing to spend some dough on a new downtown stadium if the Rays want it.

In fact, Kriseman and some councilmembers feel so strongly about another downtown stadium, they've started to offer up subsidies to the Rays without them even publicly asking for them yet.

However, there's an important lesson to be learned from the recently-scorned St. Louis market.  In the city's losing bid to keep the Rams, it spent the amazing sum of $16.2 million on architects, attorneys, engineers, and consultants.

$16.2 million!?!!!

To the Rays' credit, they offered to chip in up to $100,000 on a downtown master redevelopment plan, but the difference in those totals shows just how expensive stadium-chasing can be...and those are your tax dollars, my friends.

So St. Pete, be careful about how far down this road you go when we already know your location isn't ideal for many fans in the bay area.  Because stadium-planning can be expensive if you let it run away from you. 

And if the prospect of a few million dollars in earmarked money for the most problematic part of St. Petersburg draws this many headlines...just think about the headlines we'll see if your city spends $16 million on a failed stadium bid.

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  1. Well said Noah, the Rams spent all that money only to be duped into a PR stunt being that Kroenke was moving to LA regardless of the stadium or $$$ St.Louis provided...
    Though let's keep in mind, Rick has to walk to a tightrope between the obvious of the Rays moving & showing a willingness to fight to keep'em for political reasons...

  2. Look for St.Pete to parlay the lose of the Rays into a new stadium for the Rowdies where the Trop is, and bring minor league baseball back to downtown St.Pete...?

  3. The new stadium will be just outside of Ybor City. It's gonna be a beauty. They are working behind the scenes right now.

    1. Ybor is not available immediately or cheaply. And with not much public funding available from Tampa at all, it's a pipe dream....

    2. I agree the Ybor site is the best location of those that are plausible. The trustee for those decrepit housing projects years ago said she was willing to negotiate. Just a matter of figuring out what to do with the current residents -- they'll come up with something. I think a new ballpark and a little surrounding development could do a lot to link Ybor with downtown and Channelside, as they're a little disconnected right now.

      I'd like to see a plan to extend the TECO streetcar line somewhat east past 22nd St or south towards SR 60 and build another parking structure. That could help fans coming in from Brandon and Polk park close enough without having to get too caught up in the downtown traffic mess.

    3. Makes you wonder IF when they put "Tampa's Baseball Museum" in Ybor, if they knew ahead of time what we're starting to???

  4. If Stuart Sternberg was interested in keeping the team at the Trop site his past proposal to build the waterfront stadium would have never happened. With a guarantee of development rights at the existing site he would have gladly looked at any offer the City of St. Pete made to keep them there years ago. It's North county or Tampa unless they decide to wait out the lease or sell.

  5. Stu said in a press conference 6 years ago that they were done with St. Pete and won't be playing there through 2027. He has not gone back on that one bit! Don't forget that!

  6. This is why, as a St Pete voter, I am thrilled with the Mayor and City Council passing the agreement to let the Rays explore all options in the area. If St Pete thinks they are the best location for a new stadium, let them make their pitch -- no need to rely on the lease agreement to hold them hostage. Personally, I think the Trop site is better off developed as something else, and a ballpark for the Rays should go either in Carillon/Gateway or the Ybor/downtown Tampa site.

    Let the best site for all involved win!