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Sports as Economic Development

Sports venues are seen as an important resource to lead us out of economic recession. Our valuable assets like Raymond James Stadium, Tropicana Field and the St Pete Times Forum will change the very fabric of their surrounding economy and living experience. Additionally they are investing in local business expected to benefit us with jobs and tax revenues.

Raymond James Stadium employs many low wage seasonal employees in part time jobs requiring no education or training, and not just the Buccaneer players. Such employment is a boom to our growing population of underemployed citizens. Before the stadium was built the neighborhood was decaying but now it is surrounded by thriving strip clubs and adult theatres.

St Pete Times Forum has snarled traffic for years now while the Channelside neighborhood home values dropped like stones. Before the Stadium this was a neighborhood of warehouse businesses, now it is a towering field of unoccupied condos being auctioned off for pennies on the dollar. What was to have been the center of upscale living and entertainment is now home to a Hooters.

Tropicana field is still amid a run down neighborhood and expressway ramps as it was before it was built. No measurable development or improvement has been recorded since its construction. The venue managers are very good at keeping the neighborhood homeless off their property though.

All three brought temporary construction jobs that long ago went away as well as a large amount of badly paid part time seasonal workers. This was accomplished with public money for the benefit of local businessmen owning the teams, to which we passed every incentive and tax break we could think of.

Nothing really has changed has it?

To say sports will be the future of Tampa Bay is like telling the inner city youth sports is their ticket out of the hood. It demeans our capabilities and interests to tell us we do not need education or hard work, and instead to work on our hook shot. Without economic growth who will attend the games and buy souvenirs?