What a difference a recession makes: Tampa Trib editorial page now calls on Glazer family to aid taxpaying citizens shut out of watching Bucs

But the Bucs under then coach Tony Dungy soon developed into a winning squad, and sell-out houses became a fixture in the aughts, even after Dungy was fired and Jon Gruden led the Bucs to their one and only NFL championship at the end of the 2002 regular season.

But even though the Bucs are one of the surprising teams halfway through the 2010 season, the Tampa football market has remained resistant to shelling out the cold hard cash that it takes to see a live game at the stadium, and for the 5th consecutive home game, the Bucs won't sell out their game this Sunday vs. the Carolina Panthers, once again denying Bucs fans a chance to watch the team on television (fans in Buffalo will also be denied this weekend the chance to see their Bills play).

With more NFL televised blackouts (league law declares that the game must be sold out 72 hours in advance or it will not be televised in the local market) than ever in 2010, there have been calls throughout the country for the league to adjust its policy, particularly in the wake of the continuing crises in our economy.

The Tribune's editorial page has previously requested that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell revise the policy, and does so today, but with an addition: now they're calling on the Glazers to do what they actually did last year (in a very low key fashion), which is to buy the remaining tickets themselves so the fans can see the game.

In today's Trib, in an op-ed entitled, "Have a heart, NFL, Glazers," the paper editorializes:

So, what do you say, Commissioner Roger Goodell and team owners? Have a heart and kick this dumb blackout rule out of NFL stadiums.

Or the Glazer family, which owns the Bucs, could come to the rescue in time for the Bucs-Carolina game at Raymond James to be televised locally on Sunday. Owners are allowed to purchase tickets at major discounts so fans can watch home games on TV.

Remember, Raymond James Stadium was built because the community voted to increase its tax burden. It was a team effort, and the Bucs enjoyed years of sellouts and a long waiting list for season tickets after the stadium opened in 1998.The league and owners shouldn't continue to turn their backs on many fans who can't afford to attend games this year – and who, as in the case of the Bucs, are missing out on watching a team develop in front of their own eyes every Sunday.

Nice of the Trib to acknowledge how local citizens voted to increase their taxes, aided by the paper's advocacy to do so, back some 14 years ago.

It's a much different time now, isn't it?  Who knows what the NoTaxForTracks folks would have said if they were around?  We certainly heard a lot from citizens who questioned what was in it for them when it came to the transit tax, though there was and is compelling evidence that the increase in buses and improved roads, along with a light rail system, would be a real boon to the community, and add thousands of jobs to the region (and why wasn't that highlighted more, by the way?)

In any event, there are certainly people in this community who don't give a rat's patootie about the Bucs, and whether their games or on television or not.  But they're still smarting about how the Bucs pulled a fast one over on the community, including the Tampa Tribune, some 14 years later.

For years former CL (or Weekly Planet, as it was then called) editor John Sugg railed in the pages of our publication against the Tampa Tribune for its advocacy of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers getting a new, tax payer paid stadium, which happened in 1996.

Neil deMause, in the pages of FAIR magazine, back in 1999 wrote:

But even at news outlets with no corporate connections to the teams they cover, sports reporting — and news reporting of sports issues — is usually skewed toward the interests of local teams. Editorial boards almost invariably come out in favor of the demands of sports teams, and that sentiment can trickle down to the newsroom, though some editors are more heavy-handed about it than others.

John Sugg, now an editor at the alternative Weekly Planet in Tampa, used to work for the Tampa Tribune when the paper was covering the Buccaneers football team's demands for a new stadium — preferably one the team wouldn't have to pay for. One day his managing editor called a group of staffers into his office. "He looks at us and he says, 'Our coverage of the stadium will be limited to finding solutions for it to be built,'" Sugg recalls. "I looked around at my colleagues who were sitting there, and they were looking at their feet, they were looking at the ceiling."

The Tribune was certainly very supportive of that extremely controversial 1996 Community Investment Tax in Hillsborough County, which allowed Malcolm Glazer and sons to hit up the taxpayers of the county to completely fund their edifice to what are now half filled crowds on occasional Sundays this fall.

The half-cent sales tax, designed for 30 years, was  approved by a 53%-47% margin.  It has gone to helping build new schools, improved public safety and paid for a number of infrastructure projects (such as the Tampa Bay History Center and improvements to Lowry Park Zoo) - and also paid for every cent of the construction of the stadium, which opened in 1998.

In one of the worst deals ever made by a local government board, in its lease it guaranteed that Hillsborough County must pay for almost all of the stadium expenses while the franchise keeps almost all of the proceeds.


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