Tampa city Council approves funding for Raymond James Stadium renovation

click to enlarge Tampa city Council approves funding for Raymond James Stadium renovation - AHeneen, Wikimedia Commons
AHeneen, Wikimedia Commons
Tampa city Council approves funding for Raymond James Stadium renovation

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers secured funding for upgrades toward Raymond James Stadium on Thursday morning after a proposal passed the Tampa City Council by a 6-1 vote. The approval will contribute $29 million of local funding towards renovations of the 17-year-old stadium.

The City Council was the final hurdle for the team in gaining the funds, after the proposal passed the Hillsborough County Commission on Wednesday. The team will be footing what remains of the renovation's estimated $87 million pricetag.

“It is an asset to our city. It is an asset to our county,” said Councilman Mike Suarez. “Although we may not have liked that public funding was used to build this originally, we made the decision to continue to pay into and operate this facility, giving one-third of the dollars. This will save us money in the long run, because of the money it will free up but also as it becomes a more revenue-generating facility, we will reduce our burden on a year to year basis.”

The money will come from the Tourist Development Tax, which is collected on hotel rooms and other rental properties, and not general revenue. The tax is specifically targeted for issues such as stadium improvements and tourism promotion.

Leonard Levy, who played a critical role in getting Tampa its first Superbowl, highlighted the necessity of the renovations in Tampa's future efforts to attract another Superbowl and other world class events as he spoke to the council.

“The National Football League is going to new facilities, they like going to new stadiums," he sad. "We obviously are not going to build a new stadium, but we can make these upgrades so we can compete with the new stadiums. ... We've got a small window here. We can't guarantee you that if this is approved we're going to have another Superbowl, but we can guarantee you that if we don't do it, we won't have another Superbowl. It's as simple as that.”

Raymond James Stadium is currently a finalist for both the 2019 and 2020 Superbowls.

The approval was not unanimous. The lone dissenting vote, Charlie Miranda, highlighted the fact that the profits gained through the renovation expenditures will almost exclusively be enjoyed by the Bucs, with Tampa and Hillsborough County footing the bill.

“It is not about the sports," he said. "It's about the revenue that is being created out of that stadium that you pay for and they take the revenue. ... I'm not against sports, but these deals, all of them in this country, are bad deals. I wasn't elected to do anything but serve the public and this is a bad deal for the public.”

The renovations, which include improvements to video boards, sound systems, concessions and suites, are expected to be completed prior to the start of the 2017 NFL season.

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