Keeping Up With The Other Owners.
What was new, state of the art and the envy of other Major League Baseball owners in 2004, the Philadelphia Phillies Clearwater stadium and spring training complex is old and antiquated in 2018. With that in mind, the Phillies ownership and Clearwater political leaders want that changed. Both are planning to ask Pinellas County, Florida elected officials to free up $40 million and sent it Clearwater’s way as part of the funding needed to fix up the stadium and training complex to state of the art Major League Baseball standard. The 2004 stadium and complex cost $34 million with the addition of interest on the debt not added to the bill. This renovation will cost at least $80 million.
The Phillies ownership is willing to kick in $10 million. The rest would be public subsidies. Forty million dollars from the county, Florida would throw in $14 million with $16 million coming out of an existing sales tax. The Phillies ownership and Clearwater have a number of years remaining on the original 20-year that was done. Philadelphia ownership is free to leave Clearwater after the 2023 spring training season. Neither the Phillies owners nor Clearwater officials know if the county is interested in using the tourism tax money collected from a county fund to help fund the project. Clearwater has some financial problems. The local government has to find a way to get full funding for a $55 million downtown waterfront redevelopment. Only about 10 percent or five million of that cost has been covered. Clearwater has a massive budget deficit and raising property taxes is on the table. Pinellas County has already allocated $41.7 million for the Toronto Blue Jays Dunedin spring training complex renovations. Spring training brings some tourists to these cities but is it enough to cover stadium costs? Politicians green lighting stadium projects don’t want to know that answer.
The Philadelphia Phillies-Clearwater relationship started in 1947.