The board writes the independent stadium efforts taking place in both Pinellas and Hillsborough counties "should be complementary rather than competitive efforts, and the common goal should be keeping a regional asset that benefits the entire area."
Of course, this blog forecast the unhealthy "tug-of-war" over the Rays' future back in 2009. And a series of recent tweets have warned how a regional competition only serves one goal: putting more taxpayers dollars into the Rays' pockets:
The less "competing" Tampa does with St. Pete, the better for taxpayers. #Rays https://t.co/J9jVVnJhNC— Shadow of Stadium (@StadiumShadow) January 15, 2016
Times warns against corporate subsidies!?!
Even more surprising in this weekend's editorial is a warning about corporate subsidies, which the paper had all-but-endorsed through years and years and countless editorials cheerleading for stadium subsidies.
Previous posts have documented the Times' hypocrisy in supporting big taxpayer investments in a retail business as well as their celebrations of other stadiums funded by massive tax handouts.
But this weekend, the board writes:
Hillsborough officials have repeatedly insisted that any deal with the Rays will not replicate the flawed arrangement in 1996 that resulted in a new stadium for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But the first meeting between the committee and the Rays last month was a closed, two-hour session. As the county's incentive package to lure a Bass Pro Shops to town shows, (Commissioner Ken) Hagan has a poor track record when it comes to limiting public subsidies. And (Tampa Sports Authority chief executive Eric) Hart has an interest in luring the team, as his agency would likely manage any baseball stadium.The paper is spot-on to suggest a broader, more open conversation than what happened with the Bucs - and what's currently happening with the Rays - for a few reasons, including:
- Hagan already said he's a fan of how the Braves' secret, not-so-great, potentially-illegal stadium deal;
- Hagan was the chief architect of the Bass Pro deal that netted millions of tax dollars for another one of his top political advisor's client;
- Pro teams and leagues are much more experienced than individual communities when it comes to stadium negotiations. And taxpayers have a lot to lose.
The Times editorial concludes:
Hillsborough needs to make this process more transparent. The committee's next scheduled meeting with the Rays, on March 18, is also slated to be private. The public deserves a fuller vision, especially at this early stage, of the outlines of any deal.Transparency is a great thing. So cheers to the Times for demanding it from the officials in charge of doling out taxpayer cash.
Now, the editorial board just needs to remember transparency from the Rays is important too. Stu Sternberg says he needs taxpayer dollars.....let him open his books and prove it.
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