Sunday, May 3, 2015

Tribune Supports Poaching for Downtown

The Tribune editorial today recommends support for Jeff Vinik poaching of MOSI from the USF area to downtown Tampa.
Moving the Museum of Science and Industry from its location near the University of South Florida’s main campus to downtown Tampa is an appealing prospect on a number of fronts.

The move would boost MOSI’s attendance by exposing it to more people. Tampa’s downtown would benefit from having another attraction. And the nearly 80 acres of county-owned land where the museum now sits could be marketed to private companies wanting to benefit from being near USF and the Moffitt Cancer Center and James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital.
This is precious. The Tribune has supported the relocation of the USF Medical School to downtown Tampa away from Moffitt and Haley. Keeping USF Medical near other medical research institutions in the USF area would make too much sense I guess. They would rather gamble with MOSI on the hope of Vinikville and an unknown private company to rescue the USF area.
If the move were to happen, MOSI would join two other educational institutions in the Channel District, the Florida Aquarium and the Tampa Bay History Center. And it would be near the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, the Tampa Museum of Art and Glazer Children’s Museum. Together, those facilities have established downtown as a center for culture and entertainment offerings in the Tampa Bay area.
We've heard the same story about downtown again and again. Build this educational, cultural, or entertainment venue downtown, and magic will happen. It's so important, we have to subsidize all these investments with your tax dollars from the local, state, and federal level.

MOSI Imax Theater
All these downtown investments receive some subsidies from local, state and/or federal government:

  • Straz Center for the Performing Arts
  • Tampa History Museum
  • Tampa Museum of Art
  • Glazer's Children's Museum
  • Riverwalk
  • Tampa Convention Center
  • Tampa Theater
  • Florida Aquarium
  • Several parks
  • Tampa Streetcar
Yet we need more? Yes, as MOSI receives it's share of subsides as well.

With all the investment in these attractions, is it really working to draw the crowds into downtown? Apparently not, as now they need MOSI to make it work.

If the current MOSI property can be marketed to recruit private companies and result in some great benefit, why can't we do that for Vinikville?  Vinik has stated as much, yet neither he nor anyone else has yet been successful in the mission to draw more private sector, taxpaying business into downtown. So now their plan is poach local business and attractions into their kingdom.
The land along East Fowler Avenue where MOSI sits is owned by Hillsborough County, which could benefit by having a private company move onto the land and generate jobs and tax revenue. A tech company moving into the neighborhood would be a bonus for the Tampa Innovation Alliance, a nonprofit that is working under the guidance of former County Commissioner Mark Sharpe to rejuvenate the area around USF and Busch Gardens.
Moving MOSI to even more expensive land downtown will somehow recoup more tax revenue? Show your math on that one, please.

Much remains to be worked out. Moving an institution of that size is a major undertaking. But the move could signal a new beginning for MOSI and for the neighborhood being left behind. And it would add another intriguing piece to the Channel District’s transformation.
Not to mention the taxpayers, who surely will be asked to pay for the move, just like they are with USF Medical.

It's part of their plan for you to pay and pay and pay.

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