As Straz Center, other nonprofits question use of public funds for baseball, new poll suggests public is on their side

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As skepticism increases about Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn’s idea to spend up to $100 millions on a new baseball stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays, a new survey suggests that the public strongly opposing using taxpayer money for the project.

Mike Sasso of the Tampa Tribune reports today that leaders of the Straz Center for the Performing Arts and other nonprofits are questioning whether to put $100 million of downtown tax money toward a potential new stadium.

City Councilwoman Yvonne Yolie Capin scheduled a workshop to discuss the subject for 9 a.m. on Feb. 13, after hearing from what she said were “many, many constituents.” 

“The perception is that $100 million was being reserved for the stadium, and we all know that perception becomes reality,” Capin said. “That may or may not be the best use.”

Capin appears to accurately reading the public’s opinion on spending money on a new stadium.

An unscientific survey by St. Pete Polls shows that 65 percent of registered Tampa voters oppose using taxpayer dollars on a stadium for the Rays. Only 25% support such use of public money.

Rather than spend the money on a stadium (8 percent), Tampanians would see the money go to solving the city’s homelessness problem (30 percent), on transportation issues (25 percent), and on police and firefighting services (16 percent). Eighteen percent of voters are unsure of how the money should be spent, while just 4 percent agree it should be spent on arts and culture.

On the issue of homelessness, Tampa voters do not believe the mayor is doing enough to solve the problem; Buckhorn is upside down on that issue 32 to 40 percent. A similar number say the city is not doing enough on code enforcement.

One issue that has divided the city is what to do with the “Bro Bowl.” Less than twenty percent of voters support creating an African American Walk of Fame or preserving the historic skateboard at the expense of the other, while 30 percent want the city to do both.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.