Former NFL Coach, Others Donate to Move Confederate Statue

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Donations to remove a Confederate monument from one Florida city have skyrocketed — and have seemingly already met the fundraising goal — ever since officials tied the statue’s fate to the success of the campaign.

In a divisive 4-2 vote Wednesday, Hillsborough County commissioners gave fundraisers 30 days to collect $140,000, about half of what’s needed to relocate the monument from its spot in front of a courthouse annex in downtown Tampa.

If the private sector did not donate half of the money needed in the next 30 days, the statue would stay in place, commissioners said.

Before the commission’s vote, the online Go Fund Me campaign had raised just $7,000 over the past month to move the statue. But within hours of the commissioners’ decision, donations began pouring in.

The campaign received significant backing from local sports figures and teams, including from former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Tony Dungy, who tweeted Thursday that he would donate $5,000 to help move the statue

The Tampa Bay Times reported Thursday that former Tampa Bay Storm owner Bob Gries said he would donate $50,000.

The three major professional sports teams based in the area — the NFL’s Buccaneers, the NHL’s Lightning and the Rays of Major League Baseball — issued a joint statement Thursday that they have also “dedicated funds” to the cause. The teams did not disclose how much they gave.

Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce Chairman Mike Griffin also announced a $70,000 donation to move the monument via Twitter.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn posted to social media a picture of a signed check from him for $1,000 to Hillsborough County. Alex Sink, a former Democratic candidate for governor and the state’s former chief financial officer, also gave $1,000.

The total cost of moving the statue is estimated to be $285,500.