Like St. Petersburg over The Lens, why can’t Orlando get worked up over publicly funded sports facilities?

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In most elections, the top of the ticket is the main event. Not in St. Petersburg, says Jeffrey Billman in the Orlando Weekly’s Bloggytown.

The referendum from Stop the Lens that is Tuesday’s biggest draws in the citywide primary.

What makes it unique is that the fight over the future of the St. Petersburg Pier is not over government spending, or corruption surrounding the process. Nothing as sleazy as that.

It is a dispute over architecture.

In Orlando, there are constant battles over public financing of arts complexes—by adding just another $25 million. The Citrus Bowl wants to attract NFL and NCAA events, for another $12 million.  Orlando City Soccer is dangling a $1.2 billion economic impact over the taxpayer’s heads as a ploy to get a brand-new stadium.

But there is no public outrage in Orlando, or a grass roots movement calling for change to the system. No one questions the sense of having residents support yet another professional sports facility. Few people even “blinked an eye at Orlando City’s economic impact assertions,” even though they are “hogwash.”

Why not seek real economists, like Mark Soskin at UCF, for expert input? Why isn’t the Orlando media doing more than just parroting talking points of the teams and city hall?

Billman writes:

“I’d love to see us be half as enraged about that as St. Petersburg is about its Pier. I’d love to see something other than apathy … If St. Pete voters can burn down the proposed pier and dance on its grave; surely we can demand some reasonably eminent concession in exchange for our tax dollars.”

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.