Will the Rays’ stadium saga proceed like the deal for Bass Pro Shops?

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

So is this how new stadium opponents are going to go down?

On Wednesday, the Hillsborough County Commission heard every argument imaginable against public subsidies for a new Bass Pro Shops complex.  Then they asked Bass Pro to more or less “open its books” and reveal its annual sales numbers.  And promptly after Bass Pro said “no,” commissions approved the $6+ million subsidy anyway, 6 votes to 1.

Joe Henderson from the Tampa Tribune, who nailed his Tuesday column on the same subject, writes Thursday that “the inference was clear: Bass Pro Shops doesn’t need the help.”  Yet the company had no trouble landing a multi-million-dollar concession by promising jobs (and upscale tackle boxes).

Is this how stadium subsidy opponents will go down too?

More than likely.  The Tampa Bay Rays are following a well-proven blueprint for landing stadium subsidies.  And despite countless calls on the team to open its books, it simply doesn’t have to as long as politicians are willing to take their word for it.

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.