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.