TAMPA, Florida - As the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce teams up with the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce to study ways to finance a new Rays stadium somewhere in Tampa Bay, a separate effort to research private financing is already underway. The big difference: the second effort is focused on Downtown Tampa.
Ryan Neubauer, who two years ago launched "Build it Downtown Tampa," has been quietly working behind-the-scenes with area business leaders on a way to get the Rays across the bay. Careful not to interfere with St. Pete's use agreement with the team, Neubauer holds several specifics close to the vest.
But by September, Neubauer - and his partners in the grass-roots effort - expect to release a specific report on a downtown location and financing package they think could be the solution to the Stadium Saga.
Click here for a timeline of the Rays Stadium Saga
This recommendation can't rely on any significant public funds," Neubauer said, adding that business leaders will need to step up like never before to close a monsterous gap in funding a half-billion dollar stadium.
Meanwhile, the two chambers have been meeting to study how stadiums have been built not just in the U.S., but internationally. They want to further the work the ABC Coalition did from 2008 to 2010 and present funding options to local leaders.
The ABC Coalition looked primarily at potential locations," said Bob Rohrlack, president of the Greater Tampa Chamber. "That's the one thing we are not discussing. What we're discussing is how to fund the facility."
Rohrlack applauded the efforts of Pinellas and Hillsborough counties to get over old grudges and work together for mutual benefit...like a half-billion dollar retractable-roof stadium.
"(The relationship) has been better for a long time, but we still talk about like when it wasn't," Rohrlack said of the two counties. "Think currently what we're doing, we're doing better."
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