I have no interest in seeing the Rays come to Tampa! And it’s not because I bet the Rays organization will pull the same move on us that they’re pulling on St. Pete, in 20 years, because sports teams seem to delight in threatening a city with leaving in order to coax more money out of it.
Nope, it’s all because as a taxpayer, I have ZERO interest in seeing my money go towards a stadium that costs 500 million on the cheap end! I’ve never read an article on stadiums where some expert (the one not working for the sports team) didn’t admit that the taxpayers would probably end up paying at least 50 percent of the cost. Do the math. That’s AT LEAST 250 million that we’re all on the line for. Now that seems like an absurd bill given how many issues Tampa needs to address, problems that could probably be fixed or improved with half of that 250 million. Lets take a look:
- We have the nations highest homeless rate for a mid size city. Voting to kick them out of public areas and make them wear reflective vests hasn’t distracted from this reality. Instead, now they’re even more noticeable in those bright vests. Want to be even more depressed? We’ve got about 16,000 homeless people. 1 out of every 5 is a child. Metropolitan Ministries only gives out about 2,500 hot meals a day. Read more here.
- Are they ever going to connect the Crosstown with I-4? They’ve been working on that for years. Maybe an infusion of cash would speed that along!
- Are they ever going to finish Bruce B. Downs in New Tampa? They’ve been working on that for years. Maybe an infusion of cash would speed that along!
- Did you hear about the Tampa Bay Lions junior varsity football squad? They lost all of their sporting equipment in a fire in June. The community scrambled to raise money for the kids before the season started. A infusion of as little as $5,000 could have changed their life!
- Remember the Friendship Trail? No? Me either. It was a bike trail that linked Tampa and St. Pete using the Gandy Bridge. It closed before I ever got a chance to get on it. Sure would be nice to get that back.
- Do you see all these abandoned houses? Wouldn’t it be nice if we put people in them? Have you noticed how high rental rates are climbing, especially on houses? We don’t have THAT many homeless people. Someone is paying these high rents. Why not help them pay it on a mortgage?
- Do you see sidewalks as much as you’d like to? No? Me either. Sure would be nice to walk somewhere in Tampa without dying.
- Do you go to Channelside? No? Me either. I remember a time when that place was booming. Now they don’t even have a movie theater. Click here to read about what USED to be there. Most of this is now closed or leaving son.
- Ever wished you had an easier route to get to the Riverview/Ruskin/Apollo Beach area from South Tampa? We’re talking about a 15 minute boat ride, versus an hour or more on land. Maybe a cash infusion could speed that along!
- The state of Florida has some of the lowest high school dropout rates in the nation. Tampa has not been left unscathed. Especially amongst African Americans.
- As for the kids that do graduate high school, where do they go? Do they stay in a state where the governor only seems to focus on bringing jobs that pay minimum wage? In this state that has a terrible job market and ranks amongst the lowest paying for working professionals?
You see what I’m saying? These are just the issues that came to mind immediately. Tampa has some SERIOUS problems that could be addressed with the type of money we’d spend on a stadium. The idea of handing it over to the Rays, just so that they can bless us with their presence (which isn’t exactly Yankee or Red Sox like) is absurd! Lets ask ourselves this: Is this team really going to make Tampa a better place?
Well, I don’t really think so. Being home to the Rays may have helped the profile of St. Pete, (after all it does give your city a talking point to have a major league sports team) however that boost mostly just appears to be conversational. And currently, the only thing St. Pete appears to have to show for that conversation is the embarrassment of having the Rays organization complain about their accommodations and scout Tampa. That’s a conversation we don’t need.
Remember people: Tampa is the major city in the Bay area. We have Busch Gardens. We have the Florida Aquarium. We have Lowry Park Zoo. We have Ybor. We have the Tampa Bay Lightning. Oh, and we have the Tampa Bay Buccaneers! Not that it’s something to brag about given you have to drive to Ocala to see their games if you live in Tampa, but still…we got em!
Will more Rays fans come to the game if it’s in Tampa instead of St. Pete? Maybe. Maybe not. Is it worth the financial gamble to find out? For the Rays, sure. For the taxpayers of Tampa, absolutely not.
But eh, nobody cares what I say. I’m just a taxpayer.