Friday, July 13, 2018

It's a Package Deal! The Billion Dollar Stadium Needs Billions for Trains

Tuesday the Rays unveiled their Billion dollar stadium plans. It was all happy face rah rah to those who attended the announcement event at the Italian Club in Ybor.
Billion dollar Rays stadium in Ybor City
While "they" estimated the cost at $892 million for what will be the smallest baseball stadium in major league baseball, cost overruns will push the costs to a billion dollars or even more.

While the Rays are on record saying they would pitch in $150 million, the elephant in the room Tuesday was not mentioned at their stadium unveiling. Apparently not one word was mentioned how the billion dollar stadium will be paid for and who will get stuck with the tab to build it and pay for it's ongoing maintenance costs.

That is what most people want to know so Wednesday, the day after the stadium unveiling, the Times reports:
"I absolutely know it will grow from there, but I also know it’s not going to be multiples" of $150 million, Sternberg told the Tampa Bay Times’ editorial board.
"A baby step," the mayor [Buckhorn] added. "I think the reality is that unless the Rays are able to get to close to half, this will be a very difficult transaction to complete."
The Eye has speculated the latest massive transit tax hike effort is tied to the billion dollar stadium because there's no parking for the stadium. And it is.

One of the most pressing issues is logistically getting fans to the stadium.

Taking them out to the ballpark, the team acknowledges, will require an expanded Ybor streetcar, beefed up water taxis, a longer Riverwalk, a rail line from the east, and drop-off places for Uber and Lyft.

"The days of a ballpark where everybody drives their car to the ballpark, that's kind of five years ago," one team official noted.
Who is going to tell the Bucs they no longer need their big parking lot where lots of tail gates are held? Who is going to tell the Bucs their parking lot is passe and will now be "developed" over because the days of driving to a sports venue is passe.

The District Rays Candidate Hagan has been talking to Jeff Vinik and others for years about putting a stadium in or near downtown Tampa. And a massive transit tax hike has always been part of the package deal.

We reported in 2016 the crony Go Hillsborough Sales Tax Hike Is For A New Baseball Stadium. Hagan voted for the proposed tax hike at both county commission public hearings in 2016.

Hagan has been orchestrating the baseball stadium/transit tax hike package deal for a decade. Hagan knows he needs a new revenue source to be able to fund building a Billion dollar stadium and then maintain and operate it forever.

Hagan never updated his commissioner colleagues as he promised in 2014 when he lined up his secret baseball committee, expensive NY baseball law firm and underwriters to finance a stadium. Selection of the Ybor site and all the wheeling and dealing was done without ANY public discussion or even a nod of approval by county commissioners. Now the Rays/Hagan team want the county commissioners to ante up public funds for a stadium they had no say in?

According to this Times article last October Darryl Shaw, a big donor to Hagan, bought up Ybor property and then entered into an option agreement with the nonprofit SC Hillsborough setup last August. The Directors of the nonprofit are Chuck Sykes and Ron Christaldi. Both were supporters of the 2010 rail tax but Sykes led and was a huge financial supporter of the pro rail tax PAC Moving Hillsborough Forward.

It's all the same circle of Tampa power brokers with a few name changes.

With the Rays announcement looming for a new stadium without parking, suddenly the hastily pursued 6 week petition effort to put another massive 30 year 14% transit sales tax hike on the November ballot began June 15th. The AFT PAC, funded by deep pocketed downtown special interests, has until July 27 at 5pm to gather 49K valid petitions.

A massive 30 year regressive tax hike, that hurts low income and fixed income the most is unnecessary because Hillsborough County can fund its transportation NEEDS without a tax hike.

A massive transit tax hike provides Hagan the new pot of revenue he has continuously sought.  This massive 14% tax hike enables other revenues from the county's ballooning budget to be leveraged, borrowed against and spent on a billion dollar baseball stadium that enriches special interests and subsidizes another wealthy sports team owner.

It's a double whammy to taxpayers and the public should know it's all a package deal.

The Billion dollar stadium needs Billions for costly trains/transit to a stadium with no parking.

Ybor City is "one of only three National Historic Landmark Districts located in the State of Florida. Cobblestone streets and huge old cigar factory buildings make up this historic and legendary town."
Italian Club in Ybor   City

Historic Ybor City
A few red bricks were added to the stadium but this spaceship to Mars looks very out of place in the historic Ybor city.

Skyline of historic Ybor City with new stadium
Where are the historic and neighborhood preservation activists? They were out in force opposing TBX, opposing expanding and improving I-275 and fixing malfunction junction.

With the Billion dollar stadium and the Billions for transit a package deal…

Who is using who?


  1. Thank you for the excellent reporting. Hard to imagine tax payers would willingly saddle themselves with this ridiculous tax burden to benefit a billionaire club owner.

  2. The wealthier residents will vote it in, and all their propaganda will get many others to vote for it, too. But then those wealthier ones will make many of their purchases out of county, making our county even poorer for the whole experience!

  3. A stadium with no parking? Insane! I don't want to subsidize billionaires for 30 years. And if were talking transit let's get serous and put in a bus system that actually works first! The cost of adding buses and bus routes is infinitely lower than buying up masses of property and laying train tracks. Let's see if its even possible to get locals out of their cars and into mass transit before we commit to a Billionaire Boondoggle.