Sunday, June 12, 2022

Rays Lose $35 Million For Spring Training Center

 FLORIDA  Opinion by:  

E. Eugene Webb PhD

Governor Ron DeSantis chopped $35 million from the state budget which was to be sent to the Tampa Bay Rays where the construction of a new spring training site.

You can read the details in a CNN article By Steve Contorno: DeSantis blocks state money for Tampa Bay Rays training facility after team tweets against gun violence.

I have never been in favor of large investments by cities, counties, or the state of Florida in professional sports team venues.

The payback is never there, and the owners of these sports franchises almost universally continue to come to the government trough for additional money for a host of issues.

DeSantis is quoted in the Wall Street Journal editorial as saying, “I don't support giving taxpayer dollars to professional sports stadiums.” That should work well on a campaign sign.

The Rays didn't ingratiate themselves all that much with their recent stand on the LGBTQ uniform badge issue, and on their social media page positions on gun violence. All of which are hot buttons with the governor.

All of this unfolds in the light of the current situation regarding where the Rays are going to build a stadium, if they're going to build a stadium, and who is going to pay for it.

As the pendulum gradually moves away from the municipal financing of large sports arenas, the Rays may find themselves in a growing difficult situation regarding their upcoming relocation not only in Tampa Bay but in Florida in general.

The time is running out for the Tampa Bay Rays and their new stadium proposals. Their current existing contract/lease expires in 2027, and I'm not sure how much support there would be, at least at this point, in extending that agreement.

As Disney found out, and now the Tampa Bay Rays have discovered, entertainment venues poking around in political issues in Florida is dangerous ground to tread on.

No matter where you stand on these issues, I suspect you're like many people who would like to go to the theme park without a political protest occurring, and you would like to go to the ball game and the ball team’s website without political propaganda being part of the fair.

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