Sternberg Says Rays' Share Of New Ballpark Cost Will Exceed $150M
Rays Owner Stu Sternberg said that he "expects the team to contribute" more than the $150M he mentioned last year "toward building a proposed" $892M ballpark unveiled this week, according to a front-page piece by Richard Danielson of the TAMPA BAY TIMES. Sternberg said, "I absolutely know it will grow from there, but I also know it's not going to be multiples [of $150M]." Asked if the team's share could be as much as half the project cost, Sternberg said, "I don't envision it." Meanwhile, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said that there is an "assumption" that a ballpark "would be a 'shared burden,' and to him that means the Rays ought [to] put in at least half of the money." Buckhorn said of Sternberg's latest comments, "It's a step." However, Buckhorn added it is just a "baby step." Buckhorn: "The reality is that unless the Rays are able to get to close to half, this will be a very difficult transaction to complete." Sternberg last year and again yesterday said that the team's share of the costs for a ballpark would be "driven by projections on increased sales of season tickets, growth in sponsorships and the success of a private sector effort in Tampa to round up additional corporate support." Rays 2020 is "working to increase corporate support for ticket sales, sponsorships and naming rights for the ballpark" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 7/12).
FAIRLY SHARED? SI.com's Jon Tayler wrote one issue with the proposed ballpark is that "nobody knows who's going to pay for it." That is going to be the "question hanging over the franchise" as the Rays seek to go from Tropicana Field to the new Ybor City ballpark. At least some of the cost of that relocation "will fall on the residents of Tampa -- unfairly, undeservedly and, if it comes to pass, disastrously so." A better home and better results "shouldn't be contingent on Tampa residents diverting money meant for more schools and functional roads toward a franchise run by the wealthy that doesn't spend" (SI.com, 7/11). A TAMPA BAY TIMES editorial states to transform the proposed ballpark from artist renderings to reality is going to "require more leadership from the public and private sector to come up with creative financing options in the next six months." Regardless of the exact number, to "win the public and political support needed to pull this off the Rays are going to have to cover a significant portion of the cost." The Rays' agreement with the city of St. Petersburg that "lets the franchise look for a new home in Hillsborough County expires at the end of the year." By Christmas, it "should be clear whether the public support and the financing options are viable enough to make this work" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 7/12).