Rays stadium upgrades not really all that after all

We now know how much Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg is spending on renovations to Tropicana Field: just $1.3 milion, and it’s not exactly coming out of Sternberg’s pocket:

The bulk of the money for the overhaul is coming from a special stadium capital projects escrow account the city controls.

The account, which currently has a balance of $2.1 million, is funded with naming rights revenues and ticket fees as part of the city’s contract with the Rays. The team can’t spend money from the account without city approval.

The City Council will be asked to approve the $1.3 million project at its Nov. 25 meeting.

Naming rights revenues and ticket fees aren’t actually a bad way to pay for a stadium maintenance fund — it’s certainly better than having to raid the city’s general fund. But this is less Sternberg deciding to pony up to upgrade his current home while still angling to get out of it than Sternberg looking at a pot of money and figuring, hey, sure, 360-degree concourses, it’s either that or put it on a gift certificate. And hopefully this doesn’t mean there won’t be enough money left in the maintenance fund to do actual maintenance, a problem that Florida cities should be familiar with by now.

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