Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg says he’s all set to pick a new stadium site by the end of the year, as soon as he finds out what cities are willing to offer him to pick them:
The team is waiting for Hillsborough County officials “to completely weigh in” with a site and specifics of the project.
“When they do then we’ll be able to make a decision in a pretty quick time,” he said.
That makes it sound as if they already know what their Pinellas options are, but he said not quite.
“We have sites in mind, and it’s a question of what will get done around the site and how are they going to get paid for,” he said. “And once municipalities are able to line those things up, not completely buttoned up but at least to a good extent, then we’ll be able to make a decision.”
On the one hand, this is reasonable: You don’t want to pick a site if you don’t know, say, whether there will be enough highway access provided that fans can actually get to the game. On the other: Normal businesses of human scale that don’t have the entire back section of the paper dedicated to them usually figure out how to pay for stuff to “get done around the site” by going to their financial people and having them crunch the numbers, not by waiting for city officials to tell them what they’re willing to offer.
In short, this isn’t really much news — Sternberg didn’t even promise a site decision by the end of the year, just say it was his goal — but is a good reminder that the real issue here is less where Sternberg wants to put a new stadium, and more how he figures out a way to pay for it, which is almost certain to involve some kind of public subsidies. Stay tuned for any details of that, and pay no attention to anything else that might appear to be going on in the meantime.