tampabay.com

Few issues clutter up sports or wilderness

By SUE CARLTON
Published August 11, 2007


Of sports fantasy, Bucs booze and gators (the non-football kind.)

Game delay Well lookee here, I was thinking. The calendar showed something mighty interesting coming up on the Hillsborough County Commission's to-do-list, something that could distract us even from the outrageous question of whether to kill local wetlands protection.

Next week meant taking up Commissioner Jim Norman's infamous Field of Dreams, his $40-million vanity project, his fantasy east Hillsborough sports complex.

In the current reality of budget cuts, pink slips, curtailed programs and slashed funding, how do you suppose folks might take to the idea of building an amateur sports megaplex in one far-flung corner of the county we haven't managed to pave over yet?

Explaining this would be funded through community investment tax money, as opposed to the bigger budget, probably wouldn't make much difference to your Average Joe Voter. (Oh, so you're saying it comes out of my left pocket instead of my right? Well, okay then!)

Forget all that - would Norman be able to keep a straight face?

But the answers weren't meant to be. Turns out a key player in the sports-o-rama drama won't be in town for Wednesday's meeting. The matter has been rescheduled for Oct. 3 - interestingly, just after the start of the new fiscal year.

Let them drink foam True story: I once saw two guys walking toward a beer stand at a Bucs game, apparently a well-worn path for them.

On the way to the counter, one guy fell down. The other stepped up and ordered four beers. When the cashier raised an eyebrow - only two brews per customer - the guy lying on the ground helpfully held up his money, waving the bills. They were served.

Some people are riled at the city's tentative approval of a plan to allow liquor, not just beer and wine, sold throughout RayJay. Right now you can get mixed drinks in your more high-end stadium spots, including luxury suites and club seating.

Bucs games already have a deserved beer-soaked reputation; naysayers worry the hard stuff will make things worse. (Interesting note: recent studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found nearly 75 percent of adult "binge drinkers" imbibe in beer, while only 17 percent prefer liquor. This is probably not news to those who have withstood a sweltering Sunday watching the Bucs and their sweaty, suds-downing fandom.)

It would be unrealistic to suggest no alcohol be served at Bucs games. Because, seriously, who would go?

But to those who oppose liquor for all, it's a little late for last call.

A final note The first tragedy happened when a family's beloved Labrador, Dude, was killed after he crossed paths with a big Hillsborough River alligator.

The second was the overkill that followed when the Temple Terrace City Council declared open season on the creatures, giving trappers 90 days to kill gators over 9 feet in a 6 1/2-mile stretch of the river. (The offending gator had already been trapped.)

Hey, if we keep up our track record - stacking the fish and wildlife commission with development and hunter types, for instance - maybe we won't have so much of this healthy-respect-for-nature stuff to worry about.