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05/15/2008 3:14 PM ET
Rays outline preliminary ballpark financing plan
New tax revenues from Tropicana Field redevelopment far exceed public contribution to waterfront ballpark
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ST. PETERSBURG -- The Tampa Bay Rays presented a preliminary financing plan for their proposed waterfront ballpark at today's St. Petersburg City Council meeting. The 34,000 seat, retractable-roof ballpark will open for the 2012 season if approved by the City Council, the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners and St. Petersburg residents.

"This financing plan will create the most beautiful ballpark in America and generate millions of dollars for our schools and public services by redeveloping Tropicana Field and its surrounding parking lots," said Rays President Matt Silverman. "The new ballpark and the redevelopment of Tropicana Field not only provide St. Pete two new treasures but also serve as a much needed economic stimulus for our community."

The proposed financing plan for the $450 million ballpark uses funds from the sale of the Tropicana Field site to immediately pay off all of the current City and County stadium debt set to expire in 2016. Private funding sources will comprise a majority of the funds needed for the new ballpark. These sources include a $150 million team contribution, proceeds from the sale of the Tropicana Field site and new parking revenues.

Public funding sources for the ballpark would come from extending the community's current financial support for Tropicana Field and Major League Baseball. The public contributions to the new ballpark amount to far less than the hundreds of millions of new tax dollars generated by the redevelopment of the Tropicana Field site.

"This plan benefits every City and County resident from day one," said Rays Senior Vice President Michael Kalt. "The combined projects represent over $1.2 billion in new investment in the region and would be the single largest development project in the history of St Petersburg. By unlocking the value of the Tropicana Field site, we are able to accomplish all of this without taxpayers paying even one additional dollar for these projects."

These two downtown development projects would generate an estimated billion dollars in new tax receipts over the next 35 years while simultaneously producing over 10,000 construction jobs and 2,500 permanent jobs.

The proposed financing plan limits the risk to the City and County by immediately paying off the Tropicana Field debt and then not requiring a single additional dollar beyond what had already been committed to Tropicana Field from the City or County until 2017. The majority of the public funding sources beginning in 2017 would come from an extension of the tourist tax, funds that come primarily from out of state visitors and which cannot be used for public services. The remainder of the public funds would be about $75 million of the ballpark's cost, with the tax dollars created directly from the redevelopment of Tropicana Field estimated to significantly exceed that figure.

"This is about much more than just building a ballpark. It's about contributing to the future of our community," said Silverman, "That's why it was so important that this financing plan generate critically needed new money to help our local governments maintain public services."

For more information about the Rays' financing plan and all aspects of these projects, please visit www.majorleaguedowntown.com.

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