Clearwater, FL officials have received approval to pursue $40 million in county bed taxes for Spectrum Field renovations, but whether that number is obtainable remains to be seen.
The Phillies and the City of Clearwater are pitching a $79.9-million plan to upgrade spring training facilities, including Spectrum Field and the adjacent Carpenter Complex. While a $10 million contribution from the Phillies and $16 million from the city factor into the project’s funding plan, a major component in the current framework is a proposed $40 million in Pinellas County Tourist Development Council (TDC) funds. Rounding out the financing plan is $13.7 million from a state fund designated for keeping Grapefruit League teams in Florida.
As part of the ongoing discussions, Clearwater cleared a hurdle on Tuesday when the Pinellas County Commission allowed it to proceed with negotiations for the $40 million in bed tax funds. In making that decision, however, commissioners emphasized that the $40 million figure is not at all final, and that the exact amount–if any–remains to be determined. More from the Tampa Bay Times:
But county officials made clear that when the time comes later this year to decide how much money, if any, to grant, $40 million might be a stretch.
“From my perspective today it’s about, yeah, I want to continue exploring this relationship, I want to move forward with that, but I don’t want people to walk away from here thinking that we’re nodding on $40 million,” Commissioner Dave Eggers said.
Spectrum Field was built just 15 years ago for $34 million with facilities “the other team in the county” would be glad to have as-is today, Eggers suggested. And the county is still on the hook to pay $49,000 every month through February 2021 on the original 2001 bed tax allocation of about $12 million that built the stadium, Bill Berger, director of Pinellas County Office of Management and Budget confirmed.
Under the current proposal, Spectrum Field would see improvements aimed at addressing existing deficiencies and upgrading the fan experience, including a renovated club level, new seating, expanded offices and upgraded air conditioning. At the Carpenter Complex, players would see an expanded clubhouse, more office space, and new dining facilities. Should the renovation plan move forward, the Phillies would agree to a 20-year lease extension that lengthens their commitment to Spectrum Field and the Carpenter Complex until 2043. The team would also cover any cost overruns.