Sternberg on opening team's books
In the wake of the Miami Marlins boondoggle, there's good reason to want team owners to come clean, be transparent, and open their books to show actual need for public subsidies. So I asked Stu Sternberg Friday if he would be open to the idea, as teams such as the Cardinals have done in the past. He politely said, "no thank you":
Sternberg on new stadium's effects on payroll
I mean, that's why the Rays want a new stadium anyway, right?
Hagan's response to my questions
Then, there's Ken Hagan, who surprised (most of) the room full of journalists Friday with this response to the question of what kind of tax revenues are being discussed behind-closed-doors:
So, as is typical in a press conference, we went to Hagan afterward for follow-up questions. He raced out the back door, and had a consultant restrain me from leaving the building:
The hosts of the show, longtime radioman Ron Diaz and former sports journalist JP Peterson, had just finished applauding Hagan, specifically, for disrupting St. Pete's contract with the Rays, when they confirmed that I was the "hater" he was referring to. Hagan then added it was "TMZ-like misleading and irresponsible reporting." Still waiting to hear what exactly he found so misleading and irresponsible.
Hagan on Buckhorn's "bush league" comments
In that same WDAE interview, Hagan laughed off Mayor Buckhorn's Thursday comments, where he referred to Hagan as a "minor-league politician" and "bush-league" for leaking the Ybor City news (again) without consulting his long-time partners in the effort.
But the relationship didn't seem warm Friday. Hagan also said there hadn't yet been "any real discussions on the financing elements," seemingly a contradiction with Buckhorn's Friday comments that "7 or 8" different financing mechanisms are being eyed. Hagan's comments, after eight years of courting the team, seem either disingenuous or financially reckless.
Finally, Hagan said in the interview that "I’ve said for 8 years repeatedly that we’re not going to raise taxes." He actually campaigned 7.5 years ago on the promise of "no public dollars" at all for the stadium, but his views have shifted quite a bit since 2010.
He seems to be pushing a stadium subsidy package that would cost more public dollars than Raymond James Stadium:
Buckhorn on Rays' "extortions"
Three years ago, Mayor Buckhorn said the Rays will "use every opportunity...to extract - some would say extort - the most money from the public." I asked him if he still believed that:
That $800 million stadium figure and transparency
I also asked Sternberg if he felt he was living up to the franchise's promise to be transparent through the stadium process. He said he did.
But, it also feels he has been throwing around $800 million (along with his $150 million suggested team contribution) as nothing more than sticker shock numbers to set an opening bar for public subsidy expectations. But he knows a stadium isn't happening if the cost doesn't come down and his contributions don't come up.
So let's reset this conversation at $600-650 million, since the team doesn't need a retractable roof. The Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin just reported the Marlins had their roof open for only six games last year, and 50 games in their six years at Marlins Park.
With roof technology advancing (see Falcons and Vikings' stadiums), the Rays will be looking at a fixed, translucent roof to save on the mechanics of expensive retractable technology.
Field of Schemes on the big picture
Neil deMause writes, "This is right out of the standard stadium playbook: Make a big deal of announcing a site, get everyone debating whether it’s the right site and what it would mean for fans...and hope no one notices that you still have at minimum a $400 million funding gap."
In any case, feel free to debate the pros and cons of the Ybor City site, but try not to get distracted from the real issue here: Stuart Sternberg wants a new stadium, and wants somebody to pay for it who isn’t him. Because forgetting about that while staring at a shiny stadium site is exactly what he wants you to do.It may be working. Every headline this week has been, "who will pay for it," rather than "should we pay for it?"
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