The Toronto Blue Jays owners have been trying to get public subsidies for renovations to their spring-training facility in Dunedin for a couple of years now, and it looks like they’ve finally hit the jackpot, with Pinellas County agreeing to kick in $41.7 million in hotel taxes to go along with $5.6 million from the city and $13.6 million from the state:
The unanimous vote by the County Commission was enough to bring Mayor Julie Ward Bujalski to tears.
“I could not be more proud,” Bujalski said Tuesday. “We have a huge quality of life here and no one thing makes our quality of life. It’s a combination of things. Spring training is part of that.”
I mean, sure! I would never have heard of Dunedin if the Jays didn’t play there in the spring, so there’s clearly some benefit to having the team in town one month out of the year. It is almost certainly not $60.9 million worth — previous studies trying to show that it would be ended up double- and sextuple-counting spring training visitors in terms of their economic impact — but it’s definitely part of a combination of things. And the county also gives hotel-tax money to things like the Clearwater aquarium and public sports complexes and the Blue Jays are going to let high school teams use their stadium some and hey, get off their case, okay? If “the government throws tax money at all kinds of things, might as well throw it at one more that benefits one of the most profitable sports leagues on the planet” isn’t a reason to be brought to tears, I don’t know what is.