Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Tampa vs. St. Pete Tug-of-War Heats Up

This is why Bill Foster didn't want to just let the Rays look at ballpark sites in Tampa without restrictions. I wrote in 2011:
What has been offered is a region-wide search for a better location and Foster already knows what that would yield: a Tampa vs. St. Pete tug-of-war.
And sure enough, in 2016, after the Rays have conducted months of behind-closed-doors meetings with elected officials, the tug-of-war is exactly what we have as Tampa and St. Pete both prepare "competing" offers for a new stadium.

That only serves to benefit the Rays, who are naturally looking for as generous of a public subsidy package as they can get.

And how do you get that?

By creating leverage.

This blog has spent seven years explaining how competition between cities benefits Rays, not taxpayers...and how inevitable a tug-of-war between counties was if the Rays were allowed to control the conversation.

Then-mayor Foster even asked in 2011 for more regional collaboration from then-candidate Bob Buckhorn...but there's been almost none between Hillsborough and Pinellas leaders regarding the Rays.

According to the Times' Steve Contorno, Hillsborough Commissioner Ken Hagan "said the Rays have not yet said how much they are willing to contribute toward a stadium," so the county is trying to find additional revenues (mostly from taxes) that could be contributed toward a stadium.


Maybe we shouldn't be surprised; this is the same Ken Hagan who has spent the last six years "evolving" from his "no public dollars" for a stadium pledge. Contorno writes that Hillsborough could consider a TIF district (which involves property taxes), raising rental car taxes (which were already raised recently), a concessions or ticket tax (which comes out of the team's pocket), selling development rights around the stadium (which could cost the county if it's a land giveaway), and of course, begging the legislature for state tax dollars.

Meanwhile in Pinellas... the Times' Charlie Frago and Mark Puente write about the "battle" St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman is waging with county leaders over how much of a new stadium bill each municipality would potentially foot....but Kriseman responded to the article by calling financial discussions "premature": It's not like St. Pete has any other pressing needs for its tax dollars....

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