An aerial view of Tropicana Field
Tampa, FL -- The idea of the Rays playing in downtown Tampa may be a bigger pipe dream than ever after what Councilman Frank Reddick told 10 News on Friday.
"I do not support taxpayer dollars going towards a stadium," Reddick said.
Reddick's comments are significant because he represents downtown, where a Rays' stadium would most likely be built. Plus, he's chair of the Downtown Community Redevelopment Area which controls most of the tax-increment financing, or TIF money, collected from downtown.
The downtown TIF district was established in 1988 to pay for the Tampa Convention Center. Currently, it collects about $12-$13 million a year, but come 2016, the bonds for the Convention Center will be paid off and Mayor Bob Buckhorn has suggested some of that money could then be used to build a Rays' stadium.
MORE: Tampa Bay Rays Stadium - Continuing Coverage
But Reddick says not so fast.
"The mayor doesn't have the power to override the CRA board, which is the city council, so we're going to have some input and I think down the road I'll play a significant role in how those dollars will be utilized."
Reddick is not alone either, Councilman Charlie Miranda has already gone on record saying he too opposes taxpayer money being used to build the Rays a stadium in Tampa.
A new poll conducted by StPetePolls.org for SaintPetersBlog.com also shows a majority of Tampa residents don't want taxpayer money used to help the Rays. The poll found 65% said no public dollars should be used for a Tampa stadium while only 25% said yes. The other 10% were undecided.
The city council will meet Feb. 13 to discuss where the CRA spends future dollars but the city's administrator for Economic Opportunity explained using taxpayer money is just one idea the mayor has mentioned.
"It would be part of the conversation, along with tourist development tax dollars or gas tax dollars or rental car fees, I mean there are various ways of people funding stadiums or facilities," said Don McDonaugh.
But McDonaugh added talk of using taxpayer money may be premature anyway.
"We have the cart way ahead of the horse here. The Rays have not negotiated a release from the City of St. Petersburg, at least not to the best of my knowledge, [so] there's no conversation for us to have at this point."
Buckhorn was in D.C. Friday and unavailable for comment.
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