Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Times Editorial Passive-Aggressively Suggests Taxpayers Should Cough Up Hundreds of Millions for Rays Stadium

I really can't believe how easy some are making it for Stu Sternberg and the Rays to leverage taxpayers.

Days after I warned how the Rays' initial low-ball $150 million offer and inflated $800 million estimate on a stadium was designed to reduce the expectation of how much the team should ultimately contribute...the Tampa Bay Times dedicated its lead editorial to explaining how Tampa Bay should only expect Sternberg to contribute "in the $160-$280 million range," since "recent history shows the typical team paying 20 to 35 percent of the cost of a Major League Baseball stadium."

Except that figure includes incredibly unpopular and lopsided deals where teams screwed taxpayers, like the potentially-illegal, "worst sports stadium deal ever" in Atlanta where the Braves suggested taking on approximately half of their new stadium's cost, only to pile a hundred million dollars on taxpayers later, reducing their load significantly.

Or the Marlins' deal, which the Times' called "one of the most ridiculed deals in recent memory," before suggesting the team's 24% contribution to the stadium was a model to be copied.

In a contrasting opinion piece in the same paper, former sports columnist Joe Henderson writes Stu Sternberg should go find a few more pennies in his sofa cushions:
By the way, how did the price jump to $800 million? The Oakland Athletics, the Rays' roommate at the bottom of baseball's attendance list, recently announced plans for a $500 million stadium that, get this, THEY WILL PAY FOR!

That's right. A team struggling nearly as much at the ticket counter as the Rays said its new home will be privately financed. That's how it should be.
Unfortunately, that won't be how it goes down in Tampa Bay.

For, as I've written since 2009, the whole Rays Stadium Saga (and almost every other pro team's stadium campaign) has been designed as a showdown between competing communities to see who will offer the team more money.

Except, Tampa doesn't have much to offer.  So, expect a few more years of hardball negotiations, leveraging, and posturing - there's no happy ending to the Stadium Saga on the immediate horizon.

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