In a pleasant followup to the last time the Tampa Tribune took an extended look at the Tampa Bay Rays‘ stadium demands, yesterday reporter Michael Sasso examined how the hell anyone expects to pay for the thing.
Sasso’s overall conclusion: “Hillsborough or Pinellas County likely would have to scrape together funding from numerous sources to cover the roughly $30 million annual cost of a new ballpark. And with 13 percent unemployment in the area, no one is sure that should be a priority.” Some of the “likely funding sources,” according to Sasso’s talks with local electeds:
- Unlike in Orlando or Miami, hotel taxes wouldn’t bring in much money in the Tampa Bay area, at most $5 million a year.
- A sales-tax hike would generate far more money, but Hillsborough County is already considering a 1% sales-tax increase for light rail and other transportation projects. (Not mentioned in the Trib article: The economy-dampening effects of sales-tax hikes.)
- Tax increment financing could be used to siphon off new property taxes and divert it to paying off stadium bonds — Tampa already uses TIFs to generate $15 million a year to pay off the Tampa Convention Center. Sasso adds, “Property values are so low they could rebound significantly when the economy improves,” though presumably the local governments were hoping to use that money to start paying for services again, not to pay off a new stadium.
This is all way early in the running-stuff-up-the-flagpole process, clearly, but it sure looks like the Rays, if anything, face an even more uphill battle piecing together funding as finding a stadium site. At this rate, we could well still be at this in 2027.