Another Friday night in St. Peters burg and prime downtown real estate lays dormant again. It is not housing people. It is not winding down from a long week of producing goods that build the economy of St. Pete. Our Tampa Bay Rays are in Boston making an impressive stand to reach the playoffs. Meanwhile, back at home, the taxpayers pour in Millions of dollars in subsidies for property insurance on an empty stadium, pension benefits for all the police officers who directed traffic with overtime/off duty hours and a new sign and paint job from time to time.
This grand Vision of a stadium for the New York Islanders was REJECTED by Long Island Voters in August 2011. They didn’t like redistributing their wealth to the rich and well connected. See link to story below.
The Trop is certainly nice to have in a community as is a Major League Team. St. Petersburg Residents enjoy the games in the air conditioned, rain-proof stadium despite the jabs the media elite take at our “inadequate” stadium.
We all would like it to stay, but we wonder – why do we keep paying for it in taxes so a single corporation in New York City can enjoy millions in profits every year? Why do we pay increasing property taxes to support another piece of property that is completely off the tax rolls and is a fiscal drain for all of us. Oh, we hear about the economic benefit, but it is clear that any economic benefit is in the transfer of money from one area of spending to the Rays and the cottage industries around it. Experts from Brookings (Progressive) and Cato (Conservative) agree on that.
So we wonder – will the people that enjoy the profits take the risks – like the rest of us who have built businesses? Or will they expect the tax windfall that has been the basis of their profits for so long. Most of us have no problem with a brand new stadium in town – but we want the OWNERS to pay for it…not the little folks trying to make ends meet.
One need not look far if you are wondering how voters feel about that. Let’s look at the results of a vote in Long Island to raise property taxes to fund a new stadium for the New York Islanders this past summer. The response NO! and , ahem heck NO! See – Long Islanders Reject New Stadium – overcomming rigged vote.
This won’t disuade the local politicians and special interests who have a “vision” for the area. Too bad they can’t use their own money to pursue their dreams. It will require concerted citizen action to demand a vote for ANY new stadium or ANY change in a deal that would let the RAYS off the hook for the money they owe the residents of the City of St. Petersburg.