The banter and conversations are now percolating, at an ever more rapid cadence, for the need for a new baseball stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays in Hillsborough County. Just in the past week multiple columns and editorials have appeared in the Tampa Tribune and the Tampa Bay Times covering this hot topic.
Thus, I think this is a very appropriate time for us to take a look at how the Raymond James Stadium deal (30 years lease 1998-2028) has played out to date, and will continue to unfold for the next 13 years or so. I believe, that after you read my discussion below, you will emphatically agree that taxpayers in Hillsborough should avoid another Ray-Jay experience – which amounted to nothing more than a taxpayer handout to a billionaire.
I am of course referring to Malcolm Glazer (recently deceased), and his family, their businesses and foundations. All of which have benefited for years, and will continue to benefit from the sweat-heart deal they receive from Hillsborough County taxpayers.
Of course the Glazer’s and their foundation (as well as the Bucs organization) love to throw money around and get free publicity for various philanthropic causes and charities they support, but given all the taxpayer money they benefit from, it amounts to just ‘pennies on the dollar.’ No one in the county gets more public welfare from the taxpayers in the Tampa Bay area than the Glazers. And I would be hard pressed to find a less needy family than they are – with a current net worth of about $4.5 Billion.
To be fair, here is what the Glazer’s give:
$5 million for the Glazer Children’s Museum which opened in 2010 – total cost was $21 million of which $3.5 million came from Hillsborough County – click here to see the many non-Glazer donors who provided the other $12.5 million.
$13.7 million via Glazer Family Foundation for the years 2001-2012, $5 million of which went to the Cleveland Clinic (which does not operate any hospitals in Hillsborough County), leaving $8.7 million for the Tampa Bay Area – click here to see the foundation’s report (IRS Form 990) for details.
So, for the 12 year period of 2001-2012 the Glazers contributed $13.7 million ($5 million + $8.7 million) to the Tampa Bay community, which equals $1.1 million per year
What the Glazers get
$24.5 million per year for full care and maintenance of Raymond James Stadium. That’s what they get.
My review of Tampa Sports Authority’s stadium budget documents for FY 2011-2012 and FY 2012-2013 show the following approximate costs for each of the two fiscal years:
• Stadium Operating Expenses over revenues = $ 2 million
• Bond debt service =$14 million
• Capital project/improvements =$ 8.5 million (Capital improvements include such essentials as ‘suite furnishings, suite ice makers, and suite refrigerators at a taxpayer cost of $2.7 million. Meanwhile, during the 2012-2013 school year, my autistic son’s teacher’s aide at Freedom High School made $8.29 per hour with no benefits).
•$1.6 million per year after netting out the rent paid by the Glazers ($3.5 million) with the $2.3 million they receive for Ray-Jay naming rights and the $2.8 million they receive as revenue for non-Bucs events at the stadium. The Glazers get 100 percent of the first $2 million plus 50 percent of everything beyond the $2 million threshold.
So, the Glazers are getting about $26 million per year – and this is a 30-year deal that does not end until 1/31/2028.
Based on what they give compared to what they get, the Glazers are returning just four pennies on the dollar ($1.1 million/$26 million) for every dollar in taxpayer money they receive. Or, read another way, Hillsborough County taxpayers are getting fleeced.
And let’s not forget that the Glazers have (more…)