Raymond James ticket prices to soar

TAMPA -- Tampa Bay sports fans and concert-goers should be prepared to pay more when the Buccaneers finish their renovations of Raymond James Stadium.

A 10Investigates analysis of the team's more than 700-page application (DOWNLOAD) for state stadium subsidies reveals an expected 15% surge in average ticket prices for all events at the stadium, starting next year. The Buccaneers, among the lowest ticket prices in the NFL, also raised ticket prices 24% in 2016 after the first stage of renovations was completed.

Previously, 10Investigates exposed how pro teams and leagues were seeking tax dollars for renovations that ultimately reduced stadium capacities and increased ticket prices. The Buccaneers haven't reduced capacity at Raymond James Stadium much, but are apparently trying to capitalize on an improved fan experience to increase their revenues.

The Buccaneers are paying for the majority of their $125 million renovation project, with Hillsborough County sales taxes covering $28.8 million of the two-year construction project. Now, the Bucs are asking for another $1 million each year, through at least 2027, from the state, on top of a $2 million per year incentive it's been receiving since 1998.

The new request is far from guaranteed, however, since Florida's legislature has denied all stadium subsidy requests in recent years. Bucs' COO Brian Ford said the team just wants "a seat at the table" if the state decides to award subsidies this year.

The Bucs hopes to lure another Super Bowl to Tampa before their stadium contract expires at the end of 2027, and many of the improvements were considered necessary to land the 2017 college football championship. Chief Operating Office Brian Ford said the team hopes to land other world-class events once renovations are complete.

However, the state money hinges on the team's ability to prove that it "serves a public purpose" and return on investment from the state.

The Bucs' application indicates the team will see an increase in revenues of nearly a million dollars this year, "driven primarily by premium area revenues and certain pricing changes" at games and concerts. The team, which splits profits from non-football events with the Tampa Sports Authority, estimated the average ticket price across all events is approximately $63.

Then, in the fiscal year of 2017, the team projects a 15% average increase in tickets across all events - a jump of nearly $10 per ticket.  However, the hikes may hit areas harder with the most improvements, such as suite and club seats.

The team's application also projects a steady increase in attendance at the stadium due to renovations such as its new scoreboards, even though Bucs attendance is down approximately 5% through two regular season home games so far.

In addition to several hundred construction jobs over the project's two-year duration, the Bucs say the renovations will create seven new full-time jobs, including several in concessions and merchandising. The team says the project will also create a full-time job related to non-event catering, and two new maintenance jobs, one of which will be paid by the taxpayer-funded Tampa Sports Authority.

The application also revealed ambitious economic impact goals associated with the January 2017 college football championship game, including more than 55,000 out-of-state visitors spending an average of four nights each in Florida.  

The projection, done by the Tampa Bay Sports Commission, estimates each out-of-state visitor will spend an average of $410 per day in the region - plus hundreds more for four nights of hotel stays - accounting for more than $5.5 million in extra sales tax revenues the week of the championship. However, recent studies of tax receipts during Tampa's most recent Super Bowl as well as the 2012 Republican National Convention have shown no evidence of any bump in tax receipts during the events.

The Bucs estimate the stadium generated approximately $6.4 million in state taxes in each of the last three years, with the first $2 million annually forgiven by the state as part of its previous stadium incentive program.

Find 10 Investigates reporter Noah Pransky on Facebook or follow his updates on Twitter. Read his Sports Business Blog at Shadow of the Stadium.

(© 2016 WTSP)


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