Rays still have no idea where they want to build stadium, how to pay for it

Tampa Bay Rays execs met with Hillsborough County and city of Tampa officials yesterday to discuss possible stadium sites, and boy, did they discuss a lot of them:

They spent nearly two hours going over nine sites both inside and outside the Tampa city limits — seven presented by the Hillsborough group, two more by the Rays…

Afterward, the Rays would not discuss any of the sites. Elected officials confirmed only a partial list: the Tampa Park Apartments site near downtown, the Jefferson High School site in West Shore, docks near Ybor City now used by International Ship Repair, the Florida State Fairgrounds east of the city and the Heights property just north of Interstate 275.

Not all these sites are necessarily available — the developer of the Heights site, for example, told the Tampa Bay Times, “we’re excited about [our] project; it doesn’t include a baseball stadium” — but they’re throwing them all into the hopper regardless. Rays president Brian Auld said the team will sit down with Pinellas County officials at a later date to identify possible sites on the other side of the bay.

All this is fine enough due diligence, and a necessary first step if the Rays want to determine where a stadium could go, and more important, how much it might cost. Buried way, way down at the bottom of the TB Times piece is this snippet on funding of any new stadium, wherever it might end up:

Based on where a stadium was built, officials have said there could be up to 10 different sources of funding. Along with money from the team, those could include property taxes earmarked for community redevelopment in areas like downtown Tampa, rental car surcharges, some hotel bed taxes, money authorized by the Legislature, ticket user fees and foreign investment available through the federal government’s EB-5 visa program.

In other words, “We don’t know yet where a stadium might go, or how to pay for it.” For all the kerfuffle over St. Petersburg not letting the Rays out of their lease until recently, these are still the main issues keeping the team from building a new stadium, and they’re not going to resolved easily or, it looks like, soon. Stay tuned.


17 comments on “Rays still have no idea where they want to build stadium, how to pay for it

  1. Wow, I know a lot of new Seattle condos are being gobbled up with foreign cash for visa purposes, who knew you could also just buy a piece of a baseball stadium instead?

    • You don’t actually get to own any of the baseball stadium — just some of the debt. Plus a green card.

      This has already been used for the Orlando soccer stadium, the Brooklyn arena ancillary development, and a couple of others I’m probably forgetting, so it’s not exactly controversial. Or not controversial aside from trading green cards for low-interest loans is controversial to begin with, which is very.

  2. I wonder how much of downtown Tampa is already “spoken for” through TIFs to encourage the development that is already there? This solution gets tossed around all the time–but there really isn’t that much prime real estate in Tampa that could produce income sufficient to pay off much of a baseball field.

  3. The “where” part may take some work, but Robert Levita has correctly identified the “how to pay for it” solution.

    • It’s the Donald Trump approach.. use other people’s money and if they come back to collect on the debt, tell them no, or offer them less money back. Or do what Loria did – make big promises, lie and steal to seal the deal and when people come looking for the promise, say no and then turn around and sue them! No wonder the Rays are salivating…

  4. Why does there have to be just one TIFF in a given district?

    Tourist taxes are stackable (almost by default). Who says you can’t tax some business owner in a given area for just one stadium/transit station?

    The TIF/BRZ/CRL itself will state that the revenue will go to a particular project, but there is no guarantee that there won’t be two or three (or ten) TIFs imposed.

    How do we expect billionaires to stay billionaires if we don’t pay their expenses for them??? Big picture people…

    • Huh? TIFs aren’t new taxes, they’re diversion of existing taxes. Once 100% of the tax revenue from a district has been spent on something, you can’t spend it again on something else.

      • True, but this does not hold for BRZ or CRL districts. It was incorrect for me to use TIF as a direct example, thank you for the correction.

        Further to TIFs in general, when taxes are diverted for any specific purpose, the services and infrastructure that those taxes normally pay for have to be covered by some other source of funds… which is typically an increase on ALL other taxpayers (either through special levies or mill rate increases).

        TIFs are not new/found money. They siphon off revenue that should be used for actual services (in the same way that ticket taxes seem to franchise owners like a restriction on what they can charge for tickets…).

  5. This is a classic sales con. You get someone to want a product before knowing what the price is. Then it is much harder for them to say they actually can’t afford it.

    They teach this in the Vegas car lots but no reason that billionaires can’t use it on gullible city officials.

  6. The hypocrites should give Montreal their team back, if they will let the Rays continue to play in that dump. The Trop is an embarrassment.

    “There’s a high fly ball….Oh, it hit part of the roof again.”

  7. There’s a high fly ball….Oh, it was lost in the sun..” That scenario happens frequently, the ball hitting the roof does not.

    • Losing a ball in the sun is – and always has been – a part of the game in very much the way that the ball hitting part of the roof has traditionally not been.

  8. MLB and the Rays can easily afford to pay 100% of the $600 million or so for a new stadium in Tampa Bay.

    Per http://www.statista.com/statistics/193466/total-league-revenue-of-the-mlb-since-2005/ in 2001 total MLB revenues were $3.58 billion ($4.8 billion in 2015 dollars) and 56% of those revenues went to players’ salaries.

    In 2015, total MLB revenues were $8.39 billion and just 45% went to players’ salaries, even with the many ridiculously stupid long-term contracts that are negotiated, and you can now add the recent new contracts of David Price, Zack Greinke, Jeff Samardzija, Max Scherzer, Jon Lester, Elvis Andrus, Kyle Seager, Jordan Zimmerman, Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, Johnny Cueto, Giancarlo Stanton, and Chris Davis, and Stephen Strasburg to the list.

    So revenues (in 2015 dollars) after deducting for player salaries were $2.1 billion in 2001 and $4.6 billion in 2014. That is an increase of $2.5 billion which averages out to $83 million per team. To build a $600 million stadium costs just $34 million per year assuming 4%/30 year terms.

    What have MLB and MLB owners done with all this extra money? Keep in mind that their slice of this ever growing pie will continue to get bigger in the coming years?

    During the Bud STEALig era (1992-2014), 21 new MLB stadiums were built, 20 of which received substantial public funding. Not only did 20 MLB clubs get lots of public money, not even one of them opened their books to show why they needed public money!

    For taxpayers to pony up even a dime for a new stadium for any team is obscene. That is like providing publicly funded college scholarships for Warren Buffet’s and Bill Gates’ kids.

  9. What aboutf Rocky Point Golf Course for the stadium site? Seems perfect.

    Owned by the Sports Authority now

    Easy access off the Veterans, central location, near hotels, Westshore,downtown , etc.

    100 plus acres of open land, easy to build on, no tear downs needed-doesn’t have the issues of the high school, Heights, etc.

    Loses money now, could substantially reduce overall cost and time needed to build new stadium

    Excess land, after stadium and ample parking, could be sold to developers by Sports Authority, reducing overall cost

    Tampa has plenty of golf

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