Tampa Bay Rays Continue Search for Ballpark Financing

Published August 17, 2018

The Tampa Bay Rays Major League Baseball (MLB) team is planning to build an $892 million stadium in the city’s Ybor City neighborhood, possibly financed with a mixture of private and taxpayer money.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred called on city elected officials to contribute taxpayer money to the financing of the new stadium on July 17, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

“Manfred pitched for those external contributions, saying he felt it was ‘completely appropriate’ for business and ‘governmental entities’ to participate in the financing, and touting stadiums as ‘municipal assets’ that are indicative of a region’s status as, well, ‘a major-league city’,” staff writer Marc Topkin reported.

Public Piggybank

Thomas Aiello, a policy and government affairs associate for the National Taxpayers Union, says many sports team owners, including the owners of the Rays, use taxpayers as sources of free capital for investments.

“Team owners know that they can take advantage of the taxpayers and have them foot the bill for the projects,” Aiello said. “The Rays are a profitable business, and they shouldn’t need taxpayer handouts to build a new stadium. I am sure they would be able to raise most of the money from private sources, but the team owners don’t have a huge incentive to seek out a lot of private capital because they know they have the taxpayers to fall back on.”

Considers It a Bad Deal

Demetrius Minor, coalition director for the Florida chapter of Americans for Prosperity, says keeping the Rays in Tampa Bay is probably not be worth the cost to local taxpayers.

“The Rays are not producing a team that is worthy of stadium population, and they have not paid off their current debt at Tropicana Field,” Minor said. “Now they are looking to build a new stadium on the taxpayer dime, which means we are probably going to see an increase in taxes, and they are not going to realize the return on investment they think they will.”