Best Of 2008

BEST $450 MILLION TAXPAYER-FUNDED SPORTS PROPOSAL: Rays’ waterfront ballpark plans

Artist rendering of the Rays waterfront ballpark

It was a classic win-win: spend about $300 million in taxes and other government money (and have the Rays contribute $150 million in rent over 30 years) to build a new waterfront ballpark that had a huge sail for a roof and would be hotter than blue blazes in the Tampa Bay summer. Part of the deal would bulldoze Tropicana Field and sell it off to a developer. It was a win for the city, which would keep the Rays in town, and a win for the team, which would continue to grab huge taxpayer subsidies and earmark them for major-league baseball salaries. The losers, unfortunately, were the taxpayers, who rose up against the plan. They didn’t like the location. They didn’t like the size of the park. They didn’t like the price tag. They didn’t like the fact that the plan was secretly discussed with city officials for nearly two years. They probably didn’t even like the fact that the team was suddenly in first place and a contender for the first time. And like Troy Percival trying to steal home, the plan was soon tagged out.