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Thread: Sarasota Facility in Limbo

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    Bada Bing cincy09's Avatar
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    Sarasota Facility in Limbo

    Article in today's Sarasota Herald Tribune:
    Reds say $10M is their top offer
    City leaders want team to pay more for a new spring training stadium

    By MIKE SAEWITZ



    mike.saewitz@heraldtribune.com

    SARASOTA -- The Cincinnati Reds want to stay in Sarasota, but team executives say $10 million is as much as they will pay for a new spring training stadium here.

    The news comes a week after city commissioners demanded that the Reds increase their contribution, saying that the deal for the $54 million stadium could be dead if the team doesn't come up with more cash.

    In a letter received by city leaders Monday, Reds Chief Operating Officer John L. Allen emphasized the team's desire to make a "long-term commitment" to Sarasota, and remained hopeful that the city would find a way to dedicate enough money to make the stadium work.

    "At this point, I think the question that the city has to ask itself, 'Does Sarasota want to have Major League Spring Training in our community?'" Allen wrote.

    It's a question that the city commissioners will have to answer next week. While city leaders were dismayed at the letter, staffers are looking at ways to either reduce the estimated $26 million cost to the city, cut down on the size of the stadium project or reach out to a private donor.

    "I don't want to give up," said City Commissioner Lou Ann Palmer. "We're not 6 feet under yet. Maybe 3 feet under."

    The letter was the latest piece of a difficult negotiation process on funding the state-of-the-art stadium.

    "This is not good news," said Palmer, whose birthday was Monday. "It's a sad birthday for me."

    City and team officials have spent three years lobbying state legislators for money toward the effort. They were finally successful this year, when Gov. Jeb Bush signed a bill that could provide $7 million for the stadium.

    Coming up with the rest of the money -- and drawing up a detailed financial plan in just three months -- has been more difficult than anyone imagined.

    The proposed facility is set to be near Ed Smith Stadium, on 12th Street.

    The Reds began by offering $3 million toward a new stadium, then went up to $5.9 million, and finally to $10 million last week.

    "We have met the city's wishes to increase our participation ... and have doubled our commitment from approximately 10 percent to 20 percent of the estimated construction costs," Allen wrote. "While $10 million may not seem to be a huge commitment to some, it needs to be measured in the context of the Major League Baseball industry."

    Allen went on to say that only two teams have come up with comparable contributions for spring training stadiums: the New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies. And both teams were from "large market teams unlike the Reds," he wrote.

    He said that the Reds had "carefully analyzed" the contribution, and ruled that $10 million was going to be the limit.

    That would leave the city's share to be about $26 million. City staffers suggested increasing property taxes to come up with that kind of money. A half-cent tourist tax would provide an additional $15 million.

    Commissioners did not want to hear it. Raising taxes for a new sports stadium would be unacceptable, they said, sending staffers back to negotiate with the Reds.

    "I just don't think the city is going to be able to come up with $26 million," Palmer said. "There's just no way that's going to happen."

    The commissioners will discuss the deal when they meet on Monday. Pat Calhoon, the city's sports facilities manager, said staffers may have "overstated" the cost to the city. The figure of $26 million was a "worst-case scenario," and he and the finance director are looking at ways to reduce that number.

    He said he's trying to see whether there are any private citizens who want to be a "major part" of the new stadium. He'll also be talking to Reds officials to see if they would accept a scaled-down project.

    "We'll work feverishly at this, leading right up to Monday's meeting," he said.
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    Member JaxRed's Avatar
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    Re: Sarasota Facility in Limbo

    It will be very interesting to watch this. I have mixed emotions. Sarasota is 4.5 hour drive for me. I'd love to see them somewhat closer like Vero Beach, but I would be one unhappy camper if they bolted to Arizona.
    The lowest acceptable payroll amount for ownership to show they are not greedy pigs is 15 million more than they are currently paying. No matter what that currently is.

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    Lover of Trivialities Doc. Scott's Avatar
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    Re: Sarasota Facility in Limbo

    "At this point, I think the question that the city has to ask itself, 'Does Sarasota want to have Major League Spring Training in our community?'" Allen wrote.

    It's a question that the city commissioners will have to answer next week. While city leaders were dismayed at the letter, staffers are looking at ways to either reduce the estimated $26 million cost to the city, cut down on the size of the stadium project or reach out to a private donor.

    "I don't want to give up," said City Commissioner Lou Ann Palmer. "We're not 6 feet under yet. Maybe 3 feet under."

    The letter was the latest piece of a difficult negotiation process on funding the state-of-the-art stadium.

    "This is not good news," said Palmer, whose birthday was Monday. "It's a sad birthday for me."

    City and team officials have spent three years lobbying state legislators for money toward the effort. They were finally successful this year, when Gov. Jeb Bush signed a bill that could provide $7 million for the stadium.

    Coming up with the rest of the money -- and drawing up a detailed financial plan in just three months -- has been more difficult than anyone imagined.

    The proposed facility is set to be near Ed Smith Stadium, on 12th Street.

    The Reds began by offering $3 million toward a new stadium, then went up to $5.9 million, and finally to $10 million last week.

    "We have met the city's wishes to increase our participation ... and have doubled our commitment from approximately 10 percent to 20 percent of the estimated construction costs," Allen wrote. "While $10 million may not seem to be a huge commitment to some, it needs to be measured in the context of the Major League Baseball industry."
    In case everyone was wondering what ol' Chainsaw was up to. This.

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    SERP deep cover ops WebScorpion's Avatar
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    Re: Sarasota Facility in Limbo

    Quote Originally Posted by JaxRed
    It will be very interesting to watch this. I have mixed emotions. Sarasota is 4.5 hour drive for me. I'd love to see them somewhat closer like Vero Beach, but I would be one unhappy camper if they bolted to Arizona.
    I think that is the only real alternative. It appears that the Arizona Sping Training cities are willing to go the extra mile to woo Major League teams. Every year it seems like the Cactus League gets bigger and the Grapefruit League gets smaller.

    "Okay you guys, pair up in threes!" --Yogi Berra

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    Member JaxRed's Avatar
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    Re: Sarasota Facility in Limbo

    There are other Florida cities contemplating grabbing a place at the Spring Training table. Bonita Springs (Ft Meyers area) and Apopka (Orlando area) for example. And they would be eligible for the aid from State of Florida if they can get a team commitment.
    The lowest acceptable payroll amount for ownership to show they are not greedy pigs is 15 million more than they are currently paying. No matter what that currently is.

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    Member JaxRed's Avatar
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    Re: Sarasota Facility in Limbo

    http://sarasota.granicus.com/ViewPub....php?view_id=2

    Should you REALLY, REALLY want to follow this story..... This is the site where the city government has video of meetings. You can go to last meeting and jump right to part where they discuss the funding. It will last 45 minutes. I haven't listed yet.

    And they will broadcast next Monday's meeting live.

    http://sarasota.granicus.com/ViewPub....php?view_id=2
    The lowest acceptable payroll amount for ownership to show they are not greedy pigs is 15 million more than they are currently paying. No matter what that currently is.

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    Member JaxRed's Avatar
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    Re: Sarasota Facility in Limbo

    Okay.... I took one for the team and listened to the session. I came away VERY skeptical that the Sarasota extension is going to happen. There were 9 commisioners sitting at the table. That included the mayor (who can't speak English correctly. That's always impressive) and the City Manager. Past votes on other issues were 5-0 so only 5 of them vote.

    But... 3 commisioners (one of which was the mayor) came out strongly against the deal as it stands now. And would have voted No had a vote occured at that meeting. NO commisioner advocated approving the deal during the meeting, or spoke in favor of it.

    Essentially, the deal negotiaters were told by the council to make one of three things happen
    1) Lower the cost of the project - The negotiaters said they had already lowered it, and would look at it again with Reds.
    2) See if Sarasota County would kick in more
    3) See if Reds would kick in more. $15 Million was given as minimum figure. The Reds have said 10 million was their limit. As structured now, 5 million was essentially upfront (there were some quirks), and 5 million would be paid over 30 years. The Reds have now agreed to go 30 year lease (up from 20). Because of some some revenue restrictions, if the Reds kicked in more money, it would have to be upfront money, not paid over course of lease.

    The deadline to apply for the state money that was just signed by Jeb Bush is October 6th, and the entire plan would have to be in place by then.

    I saw a little wiggle room - The negotiaters presented "worst case" scenarios on yearly budget deficits, but never gave estimate on optmistic projections. Secondly, the City intends to keep Ed Smith stadium for other events. But the worst case scenario on that is that it would lose about $700,00 a year. So losing Ed Smith stadium would solve a big part of their yearly bite. The negotiators also did not present a case for lowered revenues should Spring Training leave.

    So at this point.... I think the Reds leave Sarasota.
    Last edited by JaxRed; 07-17-2006 at 12:17 AM.
    The lowest acceptable payroll amount for ownership to show they are not greedy pigs is 15 million more than they are currently paying. No matter what that currently is.

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    Re: Sarasota Facility in Limbo

    Didn't get to watch meeting but this has been posted...

    "July 17. 2006 7:31PM


    Business groups offer to raise money for Reds


    By MIKE SAEWITZ



    mike.saewitz@heraldtribune.com


    SARASOTA As city commissioners struggled Monday with the idea of raising taxes to pay for a new spring training stadium for the Cincinnati Reds, two local business groups offered to help raise private money to make the project work.

    “This will be a national poster child for cities to have a Major League Baseball team with minimum taxpayer dollars,” Kerry Kirschner, executive director of The Argus Foundation, told commissioners.

    Since they found out that the new stadium could cost as much as $54 million, commissioners have said they were unwilling to make city taxpayers come up with more than $20 million of those costs.

    Over the last week, city staffers have been in a race to reduce the city’s share. A major part of that could be getting businesses to support a new state-of-the-art facility.

    Top city administrators told commissioners Monday they’ve had conversations with several groups about potential public-private partnerships surrounding the stadium deal. But the administrators would not release names of groups that have expressed interest in helping. "
    The lowest acceptable payroll amount for ownership to show they are not greedy pigs is 15 million more than they are currently paying. No matter what that currently is.


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