Wednesday, November 21, 2007

St Petersburg Citizens Against Tax Dollars For New Stadium

The St. Petersburg Times poll found that 69 percent oppose any plan for the Tampa Bay Rays with tax dollars. The new stadium has an estimated cost of $450-million.

One possible scenario to finance the stadium is problematic. Property taxes could be used to pay for stadium construction. That is money that would go to fund schools. Florida is facing a property tax revolt and the Rays are unpopular. The Tampa Bay Lightning (a hockey team) played in Tropicana Field and generated better attendance.

Another possibility is selling Tropicana Field. The question is who needs a baseball stadium? Tropicana Field could be torn down and the property sold. It wouldn't be a bad place for a shopping mall.

Mayor Rick Baker is going to have a hard time selling a new stadium to local residents. The sales tax to finance Raymond James Stadium left many voters feeling hoodwinked. To quote Pete Townshend, "Then I'll get on my knees and pray.
We don't get fooled again."

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At November 25, 2007 8:30 AM , Blogger Tom said...

I agree with you, it will be hard to sell this to the public. But necessary.

Mayor Baker may think he is lucky he does not have to sell this unpopular idea to we residents. He just has to sell it to eight members of council. He only needs five votes to push this deal through but a divided council would give him problems so he wants all eight.

The current eight have gone along with almost everything he had asked of them. In nine weeks we will get two new members who both campaigned for change so the temptation will be to try to get this done this year.

That would be a tragic mistake. The city has been deeply divided over the original decision to build the dome without a referendum. The Mayor's first six years have been marked by a healing of those old divisions.

The public does have a right to have a say in how our taxes are spent. We were cheated out of the chance to debate this proposal during the recent city council election because the mayor was able to keep this secret from both council and the public.

The Times has kept this stadium on page one. The push is on. Council seems to be watching from the sidelines. We are close to the "its a done deal" phase where any change in any detail will not be allowed. We are only allowed to change our minds and fall in love with what we are given.

Its not too late for public debate

At November 25, 2007 2:25 PM , Blogger Michael Hussey said...

A public debate is the last think Rick Baker wants. Citizens don't want to hear about property taxes being used for a new stadium. Thnat brings in the question if school funding will suffer because of money being diverted to the Rays' new venue. St. Pete does not have the support for sports or the tax revenue of Tampa.

Tom, how is a new stadium necessary? Your comment was thoughtful, but I'm not sold on why St. Pete has to build a stadium for the Rays. Yes, I understand that the Rays will threaten to move and other cities will jump at the opportunity to land a major league team. From a financial standpoint: taxpayers gain nothing from sport subsidies.

I like baseball (I'm a Phillies fan). I would rather have the Rays stay. Their young talent is promising. I'm just wondering what happened to the days when sports teams paid for their own venues?


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