Stephen Nohlgren sat down for a Q&A with Andrew Zimbalist, who is described as “one of America’s pre-eminent sports economists.” You can read the entire interview at TampaBay.com. But the most telling answer came when he was asked where a new stadium should be located…
“Downtown Tampa. It’s very important in today’s economics that stadiums be located as close to a business district as possible — particularly baseball, that can play six or 7 games a week. It enables the team to attract members of the business community to the stadium at the end of the work day and sell season tickets and premium seating…Fans are of a higher economic demographic, so signage and corporate sponsorship becomes more valuable. You can create synergies with other businesses. You might have a tax increment financing district or tax abatement for a vibrant entertainment district.”
So there you go. I have never thought the downtown area is perfect. But the Bay Area’s geography doesn’t allow for a perfect situation and downtown Tampa just seems to be the lesser of many evils. And I know many of you love the idea of the Fairgrounds and the Hard Rock Casino. But it is hard to believe Major League Baseball will allow a new stadium to be so closely associated with a casino. Just can’t see that happening.
Zimbalist also touches on how an agreement could be reached and what might happen if no agreement can be reached.