Buckhorn, Hagan talk Rays stadium saga and subsidies

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The following is cross-posted from Noah Pransky’s Shadow of the Stadium blog.

It was merely the opening statement, but Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Hillsborough Co. Commission Chairman Ken Hagan made a case Friday for the Rays to put up or shut up.

While two of the area’s top officials don’t even have permission to speak to the Rays yet, they’re making plans to launch a stadium search committee to figure out how to get a stadium deal done in Downtown Tampa. And they’re calling on the Rays to put up huge sums of money to make it happen, too.

Buckhorn suggested the Rays should pay between $200 and $300 million for a new stadium – a figure that could be nearly half of the cost of a new facility, but also double what the team was previously willing to pay in 2008.  

For what it’s worth, the Rays still aren’t commenting on this week’s developments and told me in January they had “no idea” how much they’d contribute – or make – from a new stadium.

And even more importantly, how much will Buckhorn’s numbers change over the next few years?  Typically, they drop while a city’s contributions tend to climb.

Now, in Buckhorn’s defense, his office provided me the numbers on downtown TIF financing that would, in fact, likely bond between $100 and $150 million over 30 years.  It clears up that little tiff about the TIF from earlier this week.

But $300 million from the Rays is not only unlikely, it’s also not nearly enough if Buckhorn keeps his word to only spend $100-$150 million in existing revenues.  Hagan has said no public financing for a stadium, so don’t count on county revenues (until he changes his mind).

So maybe the stalemate is coming to an end…but it’s still a “Stadium Standstill” because financing this deal will be darned-near impossible without huge public subsidies.

Oh, and one more question….with the Rays consistantly pulling in some of the top profits in baseball and MLB’s national television revenue exploding and 14 more years left on the Trop’s contract…why is everyone in such a rush to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to increase attendance by a few thousand people a night?

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, 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.