A $40 million renovation could begin soon at George Steinbrenner Field. On Wednesday, Hillsborough County leaders voted 7-0 to move forward with the renovation.
The multi-million-dollar investment will ensure the Yankees continue to play spring training games in Tampa for the next 30 years.
Some of the renovations include a 360-degree walkway to provide you with views all around the ballpark, huge new grand entrances for fans coming from the overpass on Dale Mabry, indoor batting cages and a better weight room for the players, and more shaded areas for you the next time you come out to watch a game.
There are also some changes you won't notice like new A/C units, electrical systems, and a new roof on the 20-year-old stadium.
Some taxpayers are ticked about these upgrades will be done on a stadium where the team plays just over one month a year -- less than 25 games.
The $40 million price tag would be shared between the county, the state, and the team. The county's share of about $13 million would come from the Tourist Development Tax, or bed tax, that tourists pay when they stay in our hotels. Opponents argue they'd rather see the money used for upgrades to parks, art centers and more local festivals.
Hillsborough County brought in a record $25 million last year in bed tax alone, and some argue it could be better spent on other things rather than investing in the richest team in Major League Baseball.
A recent study found for every dollar the state/county/city spends on stadiums, taxpayers get just 11 cents back in sales tax from hotels, restaurants, etc. But county leaders point to a different study showing spring training brings in 1.6 million fans, who spend more than $750 million in Florida.
The big question: Is that money enough to offset this multi-million-dollar upgrades?
The Yankees aren’t the only team asking for upgrades. The Detroit Tigers who play in Polk County are expected to ask for $40 million in renovations to Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland. Then there are the Rays, who are also shopping around for a new stadium in either Hillsborough or Pinellas.
One local group, Americans for Prosperity, are blasting county leaders for this decision saying, "The Yankees are one of the wealthiest teams in baseball. They shouldn't be taking advantage of the community that has supported them at the box office and concession stands."
The county hopes to start construction soon, in time for the renovations to be complete by the 2017 spring training season.