Hillsborough discussed swapping sheriff's HQ for Rays stadium

TAMPA, Fla. -- In his search to find the Rays a new place to play in Tampa's urban core, Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan has toyed with the idea of relocating the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office headquarters out of Ybor City to make room for a new stadium.

Multiple sources confirm Hagan approached Sheriff David Gee with the idea, although it is not clear if the conversation was entertained by the soon-to-be-retired sheriff.  It is also not clear if Hagan was exploring the possibility of using the HCSO property for a stadium or as part of stadium-related development.

But while relocating the sheriff's office might have alleviated some of the challenges in financing a ballpark, it would likely put the burden of a new HCSO headquarters on an already-beleaguered county budget.

Hagan has repeatedly refused questions from 10Investigates and did not respond to interview requests either Monday or Tuesday.

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In addition to helping the Rays find the "pitch-perfect" site for a new stadium, Hagan has also assumed the lead on trying to find available public revenues that could help the Rays pay for a new stadium.  On Monday, 10Investigates reported the county was exploring federal transit dollars to help finance Rays-related development.

Providing public land for stadium development could be another possible avenue for taxpayers to subsidize the project.  Hagan, who once advocated "no public dollars" be spent on a Rays stadium, has recently said he thought taxpayers should help with the "infrastructure" side of a new stadium.

HCSO headquarters is located at 1900 E. 8th St. in Ybor City, and is part of a nine-acre plot of land owned by the county.

While nine acres is not likely big enough for a stadium, the property sits conveniently adjacent to four acres worth of properties owned by developer Darryl Shaw, who has been quietly amassing land in Ybor City for future development.  Four additional acres of parking lots also sit adjacent to the HCSO property.

A representative for Shaw said he would not be available to comment Tuesday.

St. Petersburg has already pitched the Rays on its proposed new stadium project at Tropicana Field, as Hagan and Hillsborough County prepare its public pitch at a yet-to-be-disclosed site.  The Rays are believed to want to wait until after the St. Petersburg mayoral election is decided, which will either be late August or early November.

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