A request for state money to help cover ongoing improvements at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa satisfies state funding requirements. However, there is little chance the request from Buccaneers Football Stadium Limited Partnership for Raymond James Stadium will get much consideration from the Legislature.
The partnership's request for Raymond James Stadium --- $1 million a year, for at least 10 years --- would offset already-started renovations projected to cost between $120 million and $140 million. It is the only stadium-funding application now before the Legislature.
"Since only one application was received and reviewed during the application window, by default, the Bucs application is ranked one of one," Department of Economic Opportunity Executive Director Cissy Proctor wrote in a Feb. 1 letter to House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron.
Last year, three entries --- EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Sun Life Stadium in Miami-Dade County and Daytona International Speedway --- were shut out by lawmakers, even after the Department of Economic Opportunity found they qualified for state sales-tax money. Corcoran has equated such use of state money to "corporate welfare."
And this year's funding request for Raymond James Stadium is expected to languish as the House Government Accountability Committee on Tuesday will hear a measure (HB 77), filed by Rep. Bryan Avila, R-Hialeah, that would prohibit professional sports franchises from building or improving stadiums on public lands. Avila's bill is on a fast track, with only one other committee review in its path.
Meanwhile, Senate Community Affairs Chairman Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa, has filed a separate measure (SB 236) intended to repeal a program that was created to streamline the process of state funding for stadium projects. Previously, requests for stadium money involved heavily lobbied proposals submitted in individual bills and through the budget process.