Rays say schools gain in redevelopment
The team figures $5-million a year for education from Tropicana plans.
By AARON SHAROCKMAN, Times Staff Writer
Published January 12, 2008
ST. PETERSBURG - The Tampa Bay Rays' argument for a new waterfront home extends beyond a pretty baseball stadium and a transformed Midtown megablock.
It's about tax dollars.
For you. Not them.
The Tampa Bay Rays say the successful redevelopment of Tropicana Field and its parking lots could generate $5-million a year in new property tax revenues for state and Pinellas schools. If the redevelopment includes retail, millions of dollars more could flow into the city and county coffers each year through sales tax payments.
That money, which would not help build a new Rays stadium for the Rays, could be used to build new schools or new parks or pay teachers or police officers more, the Rays say.
It just takes a lesson in algebra and a little extrapolation to realize.
The Rays' project that a fully redeveloped Tropicana Field would attract a total of $800-million in new local tax revenues over the next 35 years. But that amount is almost impossible to verify before development scenarios for Tropicana Field are detailed in March, professional property appraisers say.
Skeptics worry it has the trappings of a huge letdown.
But Rays executives say that's exactly why they are asking the city next week to issue a request to developers for ideas.
"We're not asking people to take a leap of faith," Rays senior vice president Michael Kalt said. "The city is going to have a fairly solid development agreement with someone or they're not going to take a flier. There will be assurances in place."
Of every $1 in property taxes generated by Tropicana Field's redevelopment, about 52 cents under any scenario would be placed into a special taxing fund to complete downtown capital projects. The Rays are asking that most or all of that money help fund a their new $450-million stadium.
The other 48 cents, however, would be spread across several governmental agencies for their use. The largest chunk, about 37 cents, would be redirected to the state and local school system.
Much of the talk about the proposed redevelopment of Tropicana Field so far has centered on the first pot of money - critics have called it a handout - but not the second.
The possible tax benefit
For every $1 generated in property taxes:
- 52 cents would be diverted to a special taxing fund for downtown St. Petersburg improvements. (The Rays are seeking that money to build a new stadium).
- 37 cents would go to the Pinellas and state school system.
- 11 cents would be split among five smaller local taxing agencies.