Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Forget stadium talk. Let’s just watch a ballgame

in Sports/Top Headlines by

Trophies. We ought to be talking about trophies.

You know, the way we did in the early 2000s. The Bucs won a Super Bowl. The Lightning won a Stanley Cup a year and half later. The Rays went to a World Series two years after that.

Players. We ought to be talking about players.

There was a time when the population included Derrick Brooks and Warren Sapp and Marty St. Louis and Vinny Lecavalier and David Price and James Shields. You couldn’t have an all-star game without Tampa Bay.

These days?

We talk about stadiums. Endlessly.

We talk about the improvements the Bucs want to make in Raymond James Stadium and the loopholes they wish to create. We talk about what side of the Bay the Rays want to land, and whether the City Council will allow it or not. We talk about the improvements that the Lightning want.

And frankly, it feels as if the fans are getting worn down by it all.

The Bucs want a nice place to play, and to help make it that way, they want the ability to play here less often. Does that make sense? The Bucs say they simply want insurance. Well, can’t they call All State? But the County Commission is already grumbling about the way the Bucs negotiatiate, which brings us all back to when the stadium was voted in to begin with. That was acrimonious enough with all the talk of the team leaving town.

The Rays, three dates away from finishing last in attendance again, never let a fan forget about money. A trading deadline deal? That’s usually to shed a contract. Now, the City Council is talking about freezing the taxes that would be used for a new stadium if it would be built on this side of the bay. But does the team even want to be on this side? We won’t know for sure until it has the ability to shop on the Tampa side, which St. Pete is reluctant to give. In the meantime, the image is that it is willing to grip the franchise as hard as possible while doing nothing to take care of its future.

The Lightning is the lowest key of the three when it comes to improvements, but it plans to make $25 million worth of upgrades. It wants the county to pay for half of those.

And we haven’t even begun to discuss an on-campus stadium for USF.

You wonder about the future. Where will the Rays be playing in 10 years, and might it be Montreal? Where will the Bucs be? The Lightning should still be here, but will Steven Stamkos be here, too?

In the meantime, I just want to watch a ballgame.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit

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