The Florida House voted Friday on its new stadium subsidy package, which now includes an amendment that could withhold monies from MLB teams until the league starts treating Cuban players like other international players. It comes on the heels of Yasiel Puig’s claims that a Mexican drug cartel was trying to extort 20% of his earnings.
However, Florida House Appropriations Committee chair Seth McKeel, who represents Lakeland, assures the city the amendment will not affect spring training, Rufty writes.“It affects a potential pot of money that could possibly be allocated if the Legislature passes the incentive bill (HB 7095) for new major league stadiums for the Tampa Bay Rays and the Florida Marlins, which want to build new stadiums,” McKeel added.Gaetz said HB 7095 is for new funding based solely on capital improvements and stadium construction. It exempts existing spring training money, but future funds from the new source – for Lakeland or any other sports facility — could be withheld until MLB changes the rule on Cuban players.
If the bill is signed into law and it exempts spring training stadiums, the political statement could be costly for one team: the Tampa Bay Rays. Since we’d only be talking about full-season big-league stadiums and the Marlins just got one, we’re really only talking about the Rays.
The other amendment adopted by the House on Thursday would require pro teams receiving new state subsidies to make their (state-owned) facilities available as emergency shelters on non-event days. A similar effort failed a couple years ago when pushed by local subsidy critic Mike Bennett, then a state Senator.
The House and Senate bills both cap total expenditures for new stadiums, but they also both open the door for new teams to get funds. A House amendment, approved on April 1, “expanded the definition of ‘Beneficiary’ to include the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, Major League Soccer, or the North American Soccer League, the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association, and the promoter of a signature event sanctioned by the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing.”