New Tampa mayor wants to reopen Rays stadium talks, not cost herself any money, this should go great

New Tampa mayor Jane Castor attended the Tampa Bay Raysnot-quite-sold-out Game 4 of their Division Series on Tuesday night, and as she said when she was elected in April, was very enthusiastic about building the Rays a stadium in her city:

“I really feel like we should probably maybe just start over again,” Castor said as she greeted people behind home plate at Tropicana Field on Tuesday. “Everybody just come back to the table and start over again. Finding out what the Rays want and need, and then which community can best fulfill those needs.”

We already know what Rays owner Stuart Sternberg wants and needs, and it’s somebody to build him a $900 million stadium without him having to pay much toward it. That’s what crashed and burned last December, after Hillsborough County proposed going halfsies on a stadium but without even really having the money identified to do that; going back to the table and starting over again is a nice idea, but it still leaves everyone staring at a table with a “place $900 million here” sign.

And, because why be an elected official if you can’t promise all things to all people, Castor added this:

“If a decision was made to build a stadium in Tampa, I have said from the beginning that taxpayer dollars would not be used to build a new stadium, and I stand by that,” Castor said. “There are many ways to get a stadium built.”

I mean, not really? There is only one way to get a stadium built, and that is by paying a construction company to build a stadium, which requires somebody writing a check. Sternberg has made very clear that he is not going to be the one to write the largest check — if he’d wanted to do that, he could have built a stadium four or five times over by now — so if taxpayer dollars won’t be involved, then that leaves, I guess, a GoFundMe?

The other possibility, of course, is that Castor intends to use taxpayer dollars, but taxpayer dollars that she can pretend aren’t taxpayer dollars: free land grants, property tax breaks, tax increment financing districts that funnel only “new” taxes to the stadium, etc. Or maybe she thinks that telling Sternberg, “You can have your stadium, but you have to pay for it” will work better now than it did the past few years? Either way, she’s coming off as either naive or disingenuous, which is not a great start for the next round of Tampa stadium talks.

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5 comments on “New Tampa mayor wants to reopen Rays stadium talks, not cost herself any money, this should go great

  1. I read an article somewhere that Sternberg would only have 3 votes for public funding on the Hillsbourough Council. My understanding the county has a homeless problem and wants nothing to do with financing a new ballpark

    1. This article?

      It implies that there are only three “yes” votes on the seven-member county commission, but that also means it would only take one commissioner to switch sides to approve stadium money. (Assuming stadium money could be found somewhere.) As we’ve seen before, not least in the Marlins Stadium deal, it’s nearly always possible to offer something that will get a single elected official to switch sides.

      1. Well, if you are only going to get three votes… making them county commissioner votes is very important I would think… Ah, democracy…

  2. Just start over.

    Find out what the Rays “want and need”.

    So… they are going to be allowed to back away from any commitment they have actually made thus far and renegotiate not only what constitutes a bona fide “need” but their wants as well.

    Yeah, this should go great Jane. Why not just get to work on paying someone to invent holographic 3D (or maybe 4D) displays right now.
    Also a frame work where you would pay them an ever increasing amount to play in the stadium you are going to build them for free (to their wish list specification, of course).

    Starting over always works. For the franchise owner.

  3. Hillsborough County really has no money. Not sure if they have a serious homelessness problem now–but if there is anything that Hillsborough County Commissioners can be relied on almost without fail in the last 3 decades or so, it’s stripping public service budgets for sports stadiums. If this gets kind of serious, they will find or invent the currency required to make it happen. It’s for development, and the children.

    After all, they paid for that Bucs stadium, after which I think they hosted the Super Bowl a couple times (with another in 2021…about every 10 years), saw the home team win once, and then have about as bad of a decade as they’ve had in their history. Stadiums make great things happen–Hillsborough County Commissioners know this!

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