The Rays are looking for a new home and political leaders are making a big attempt to try to make it a reality. Pinellas County officials are proposing a tax that would help generate around $60 million dollars to help with construction of a new stadium (whether it is in St. Petersburg or in Hillsborough County). The question is though, will the “fans” actually support this tax?
The Rays franchise is worth an estimated $316 million and the cost of a new stadium would cost around $500 million. The proposed tax would generate around $60 million to help with initial construction and foundation of the new stadium, but will the fans support it? Most believe they won’t. Many site the economy as the reason they cannot support the new tax. I find this nearly impossible to believe. First of all, the tax would be about one cent, one penny, I am sure everyone can look under their couch and find even more money than that. Also, if the fans did support the tax, there is a possibility that the fans would have part ownership in the stadium, keeping the franchise here in Tampa.
The Rays struggled to fill seats all season long and many pointed to the economy as the reason, but this is not true. The reason is location, St. Petersburg is too far for a family that works till 5 in Tampa to drive all the way to Tropicana Field for a game that starts at 7. The Rays on average have some of the cheapest seats around. When the Rays handed out free tickets, they sold out the game, even though people still had to pay for parking, gas to the game, food and drinks, so to believe the economy is bad, it does not hold any water.
So there is money in Tampa, but there is little support for the team in the area on a daily basis. If the proposed tax does not get approved and the community rejects it, the team will be hard pressed to find ways to generate enough revenue to build a new stadium, the one thing the team is begging for and needs. President Stuart Sternberg stated the team would explore all options for a new stadium, even outside of St. Petersburg and maybe even out of Florida in general.