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April 19, 2010

Rays stadium funding options: Hey, let's put on a show!

In a pleasant followup to the last time the Tampa Tribune took an extended look at the Tampa Bay Rays' stadium demands, yesterday reporter Michael Sasso examined how the hell anyone expects to pay for the thing.

Sasso's overall conclusion: "Hillsborough or Pinellas County likely would have to scrape together funding from numerous sources to cover the roughly $30 million annual cost of a new ballpark. And with 13 percent unemployment in the area, no one is sure that should be a priority." Some of the "likely funding sources," according to Sasso's talks with local electeds:

  • Unlike in Orlando or Miami, hotel taxes wouldn't bring in much money in the Tampa Bay area, at most $5 million a year.
  • A sales-tax hike would generate far more money, but Hillsborough County is already considering a 1% sales-tax increase for light rail and other transportation projects. (Not mentioned in the Trib article: The economy-dampening effects of sales-tax hikes.)
  • Tax increment financing could be used to siphon off new property taxes and divert it to paying off stadium bonds — Tampa already uses TIFs to generate $15 million a year to pay off the Tampa Convention Center. Sasso adds, "Property values are so low they could rebound significantly when the economy improves," though presumably the local governments were hoping to use that money to start paying for services again, not to pay off a new stadium.

This is all way early in the running-stuff-up-the-flagpole process, clearly, but it sure looks like the Rays, if anything, face an even more uphill battle piecing together funding as finding a stadium site. At this rate, we could well still be at this in 2027.


As an outside observer, I will say that the Rays seem to be one team that could really use a new stadium. Tropicana Field looks like a pretty horrible place to play ball. With that being said - sounds like there is no way they can ever finance a new stadium. Shame too, considering how good they're playing. I wonder if they'll just relocate eventually?

Posted by Angeleno on April 22, 2010 11:39 AM

Interesting note on one of the ESPN Baseball columns reference the Rays (and A's) stadium issues.

Bottom line - says while teams are talking about new stadiums, they is realy no place for them to "move to". So it seems the teams best interest would be to work out the best deal where they are at now.

Posted by Ken H on April 23, 2010 03:56 PM

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