SBD/November 20, 2012/Facilities

Study Group Finds New Rays Stadium Is Possible Without Imposing New Taxes

A joint chamber of commerce study group from Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties (Fla.) yesterday announced that a $500M, roofed stadium for the Rays could be financed without "imposing new taxes on local residents,” according to Stephen Nohlgren of the TAMPA BAY TIMES. Even so, tax sources “that the chambers do contemplate could prove controversial: sales tax and Penny for Pinellas funds in Pinellas; Community Investment Tax and downtown development money in Hillsborough; a new auto rental surcharge at Tampa International Airport; and additional tourist taxes in both counties.” The chamber group said that the Rays “could be expected to pay 20 to 40 percent of the cost.” A 30% share “would be $150 million.” The group “grew out of a standoff” between Rays Owner Stuart Sternberg and St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster. Sternberg “wanted to look at potential sites in Tampa,” while Foster, citing the Tropicana Field contract, “said no.” The caucus was “formed by the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce and St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce,” and they “consulted with the Rays, and public officials in both counties” (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 11/20). WTVT-Fox’ Steve Nichols reported the caucus “spent well over a year studying the available revenue streams in both counties, as well as the cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg.” Foster declined to comment on the study, and said that he “needed more time to digest the information.” Rays President Matt Silverman “issued a statement applauding the effort.” Silverman in the statement wrote, “Regional cooperation like this is sorely needed as we all move forward and work together to secure the future of Major League Baseball in Tampa Bay” (MYFOXTAMPABAY.com, 11/19).
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