The Rays Tank: Stadium Financing News

Mike Ehrmann

As Daniel wrote yesterday in this space, two chambers of commerce released a financing plan for a new Rays stadium. Well, they released two separate plans, one for Tampa and one for St. Petersburg. A good amount would come from tax payers, with roughly $400 million needed. The two plans, via Shadow of the Stadium:

Tampa:

  • Using tax-increment financing (TIF) associated with Tampa's Downtown Community Redevelopment Area (CRA). Increased property tax collections downtown, which must be used for capital projects, would be directed to pay down stadium debt. ($105-$115 million)
  • Re-direct a portion of the Community Investment Tax (CIT) from local road & infrastructure improvements to a new stadium. The local sales tax, of which a portion funds Raymond James Stadium, expires in 2026 and would have to be extended. ($70-$80 million)
  • A new 5% surcharge on auto rentals, which would hit tourists more than local residents. ($140-$150 million)
  • A new 6th-cent added to the tourist/bed tax. Hillsborough County isn't considered a "high-tourist" county, so state law prohibits it from charging tourists 6% tax on hotel stays. However, the chamber indicated legislators could be convinced to change the law. ($35-$45 million)

St. Petersburg:

  • Existing revenue streams already paying for Tropicana Field. Most Trop bonds will be paid off by 2015, so leaders can either stop collecting the taxes, re-direct the collections to other city & county needs, or re-direct them to a new stadium. ($115-$148 million)
  • Re-direct a portion of the "Penny for Pinellas" local improvement tax to a new stadium. The tax sunsets after 2020, so its bonding capacity would be modest at best without another extension. ($35-$40 million)
  • A new 6th-cent added to the tourist/bed tax. Pinellas County, like Hillsborough, isn't considered a "high-tourist" county, so lawmakers would have to change state statutes for Pinellas to increase the tax on hotel stays from 5% to 6%. ($50-$60 million)
  • Re-directing a large portion of St. Petersburg's share of state sales tax toward a new stadium. The city currently receives $12.2 million/year from the state, and much of it could be leveraged into new stadium bonds. ($165-$175 million)

All of that information is a step in the right direction, but nothing is going to be done until the Rays and St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster work out a solution. Until then, I'm not getting excited about any news. What do you all think about those proposed plans?

On the free agent front, the Rays, along with the Phillies, Astros and Red Sox, are reportedly interested in Lance Berkman. With that many teams interested and Berkman saying he would like to be paid like a Major League three-hole hitter it would seem the Rays are out of his price range.

Links:

-SI's Jay Jaffe takes a look at the Brothers Upton and their possible landing spots this winter. The news has cooled on Justin, but there is still plenty of interest in B.J.

-Over at FanGraphs, David Laurila posted his Q&A with David Cone. Unlike most broadcasters, Cone is a pretty big stat-head and openly cites sabermetric stats and principles on the air.

-The Yankees are...for sale? Not yet, but it's a possibility. News Corp is reportedly buying 49 percent of the YES Network. That's going to raise some eyebrows.

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