When Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn stepped off his plane and headed to the Glazer Children's Museum for an event, he had an idea one topic might come up.
Predictably, at the monthly meeting of ACG Tampa, a member-based group dedicated to enhancing networking options for middle-market professionals, one attendee took up the subject head on: She told Buckhorn she wanted to talk baseball.
“The current business model is not working,” Buckhorn said of the Rays' financial woes in St. Petersburg. “The problem is hard to identify but is most likely scarce corporate sponsorship.”
Buckhorn explained that having the Rays in downtown Tampa would revitalize the area and connect Ybor. He says the economic impact of having a sport that is played so often — with more than 80 games a year — would be an economic driver for Tampa.
“It would be absolutely transformative to the area,” Buckhorn stated.
But Buckhorn repeated the word “hypothetical” mechanically, slipping it into every sentence regarding the Rays, a new stadium or the city of St. Petersburg.
Regardless of what deal may be worked out, Buckhorn acknowledges that a stadium for the Rays in downtown Tampa would be a $500 million investment, something he did not want to see financed the way another area stadium was.
“There will never be another Raymond James stadium,” he asserts. “Taxpayers won't pay for a baseball stadium here.”