Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Hillsborough, Rays Talk Stadium Locations; Still Pretend $200+M isHiding in Sofa Cushions

The Times' Richard Danielson reports today that the Rays continued their secret, undocumented meetings with Tampa-area community leaders today, ultimately bringing the conversation around to nine possible (undisclosed) new stadium locations, and the (undisclosed) tax dollars they may tap into to help pay for their new park.

And even though Rays President Brian Auld once promised total transparency on the process, and Hillsborough Commission's resident tax pledge flip-flopper Ken Hagan suggested the same, details from these meetings have been hush-hush.

Sounds about right.

Pro teams love when the headlines avoid the difficult financial talk, for they want to maintain tight control over the conversation and how it's perceived by the public. (See super-secret blueprints in Atlanta and Texas). But Danielson did include one financial nugget:
Based on where a stadium was built, officials have said there could be up to 10 different sources of funding. Along with money from the team, those could include a share of the property taxes that are already earmarked for community redevelopment in areas like downtown Tampa, rental car surcharges, a portion of local hotel bed taxes, money authorized by the Legislature, ticket user fees and foreign investment available through the federal government's EB-5 visa program.
Since the Times' Steve Contorno eloquently pointed out in a different article this morning, "There are winners and losers whenever government creates incentives," allow me to fulfill my watchdog duties by pointing out the losers for each of these possible pro sports incentives Hagan and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn are discussing:
  1. Property taxes earmarked for community redevelopment: Other local projects that receive CRA/TIF money lose, from transit to parks to arts to roadways to the Ybor City Redevelopment Corporation to safety improvements.

  2. Rental car surcharges: Aside from the folks who rent cars in Hillsborough Co - regardless of whether they've even heard of the Rays - the airport also loses, as car rental taxes could help pay for more airport improvements like expansion, modernizations, or even cheaper parking!

  3. Local hotel bed taxes: Everyone seeking money for arts, beaches, museums, and other tourism-driving events lose, since tourist taxes are eligible for a wide-range of expenditures.

  4. Money authorized by the legislature: Taxpayers would lose, since this general revenue money could go to any other educational, social service, or infrastructure need in the state.

  5. Ticket user fees: The Rays lose, since this comes out of the price of a ticket...so don't expect that one to fly.

  6. Foreign investment through EB-5: Some would argue hard-working, middle-class immigrants looking to come to America would lose...while others would argue a lot of Americans lose out too.  Either way, it hasn't yet proven itself a reliable - or robust - way to fund private stadiums. 
It's worth pointing out the rental car & state money would require favors from the legislature, which has denied every stadium subsidy application that's come its way in recent years, amazingly enough.

So to summarize, Hagan hasn't figured out how to pay for a new Rays park in Tampa; he hasn't figured out how to redirect general revenue funds toward baseball without anyone noticing; and he hasn't figured out how to weasel his way out of his "no new taxes" pledge. 

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  1. Paying for a stadium with out the use/increase of taxes seems impossible. Would residents of Tampa/Hillsborough county want to fund another privately owned stadium? I have doubts, given the market and the fact that MLB is not the NFL, and the Rays look to be far away from being competitive, in contrast to the Bucs in the late 90's.
    I will add that Bucs fans were rewarded with a superbowl not too long after the completion of RayJay. If the Rays ever want to compete, the need the revenue streams a new stadium in Hillsborough county would bring, you know, so they can keep some if the talent they develop.

  2. Local business must get involved.It has been said before, if the business community does not start to support Rays, they do not have much of a future.

  3. Lose out on a Super Bowl because you don't have money for upgrading your stadium, and courting a baseball team with money you don't have while financially supporting a second baseball team. This tax boondoggle is going to be enormous.

  4. Time to reiterate my rant...

    MLB and the Rays can easily afford to pay $600 million or so for a new stadium in Tampa Bay.

    Per http://www.statista.com/statistics/193466/total-league-revenue-of-the-mlb-since-2005/ in 2001 total MLB revenues were $3.58 billion ($4.8 billion in 2015 dollars) and 56% of those revenues went to players’ salaries.

    In 2015, total MLB revenues were $8.39 billion and just 45% went to players’ salaries, even with the many ridiculously stupid long-term contracts that are negotiated, and you can now add the recent new contracts of David Price, Zack Greinke, Jeff Samardzija, Max Scherzer, Jon Lester, Elvis Andrus, Kyle Seager, Jordan Zimmerman, Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, Johnny Cueto, Giancarlo Stanton, and Chris Davis, and Stephen Strasburg to the list.

    So revenues (in 2015 dollars) after deducting for player salaries were $2.1 billion in 2001 and $4.6 billion in 2014. That is an increase of $2.5 billion which averages out to $83 million per team. To build a $600 million stadium costs just $34 million per year assuming 4%/30 year terms.

    What have MLB and MLB owners done with all this extra money? Keep in mind that their slice of this ever growing pie will continue to get bigger in the coming years?

    During the Bud STEALig era (1992-2014), 21 new MLB stadiums were built, 20 of which received substantial public funding. Not only did 20 MLB clubs get lots of public money, not even one of them opened their books to show why they needed public money!

    For taxpayers to pony up even a dime for a new stadium for any team is obscene. That is like providing publicly funded college scholarships for Warren Buffet’s and Bill Gates’ kids.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. SOOOO the Rays should just pay for everything including the city's infrastructure around the stadium while Tampa just sits back collecting millions in revenue year after year for the next 100 years, and not just from the Rays but also from everything around the ballpark BECAUSE of the Rays?
      And, the Rays are the greedy ones, lol!?

    3. Hi B. Dufala.
      Finally you are getting it right. Yes, if the Rays need infrastructure to collect all their revenues at the stadium, then by all means they should pay for it. Verizon generates millions and millions in the Tampa Bay Area. How much are we paying for their 'stadium'?

    4. What modern stadium is being built to last 100 years?!?!?!?

    5. It's not as much as about "last"ing then it is about location. IF your Red Sox played in Salem (which is about the same distance from Boston's urban core as St.Pete is to Tampa, or Joe Robbie was to Miami Beach, or Candelstick was to the Bay Bridge, or Turner is to it's season ticket holders, etc.), and/or had a 70's canvas roof, then them to would of built a NEW stadium in downtown Boston...

  5. SOOOO Auld suppose to call TBT and tell'em everything he does, maybe I'm wrong, BUT isn't it an "investigative reporters" job to get the story...
    And com'on NOah, why would anyone talk about "finances" if they don't know exactly what they are, and even if they had a really good idea of the (projections) of a stadium cost in Channelside (which you say he "hasn't", which is an opinion NOT a fact), again, why would they talk about it maybe years ahead of revealing the whole plan? I mean your not that naive, are you?
    I think a bigger story then re-reporting about a meeting, is IF some of the high rise projects in north Channelside are being built knowing about a MLB stadium being built next door? If so, how much money is that bringing Tampa because of the Rays that isn't equated in the negative spin by this blog?

    1. Dude, stop making excuses for the lack of transparency.

    2. PS - there are no secret high-rises being built next to imaginary stadiums.

    3. It's not about "transparency" then it is about reporters upset some other reporter didn't do their job for them.
      Plus, no one said "secret", the major developments in northern Channelside is well documented (by other reporters), but are they & Vinik building big knowing (not because), but knowing a huge state-of-the-art people magnet is coming?

    4. People magnet... The Lightning are building an arena???

    5. No, the city of Tampa already paid for and been reaping the benifits from that one, just like Raymond James, and just like they will from the new ballpark...

  6. Unless you are talking about the MECA (Madison Square Garden) was designed and built with growth in mind and has already been renovated, event facilities should be made to function at least 30-35 years with minor renovations put in place.

    The PUBLIC should NEVER have to put up more then 20% of the funding for a stadium/event pavillion that will not be contracted to remain in use by it's principle tenant for more then 30-35 years so that the facility can pay for it'self and a future facility to replace it. That is only fair and a GREAT business model.

  7. Have heard that Tampa may be looking at Rocky Point Golf Course as the site for the new stadium. Makes a lot of sense-Ideal location next to Veterans Expressway and Westshore, hotels, etc., 120 acres of open land, easy to build on, no big money to acquire-It's owned by Sports Authority already-extra land to be sold to developers. Course loses money now-would be big economic turnaround, making stadium cost a lot less. All the other sites have big problems-tear down high school, cost of buying land, etc.