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80% of Survey Respondents Say No

Voters Show Overwhelming Opposition to Current Rays Stadium Deal


ST. PETERSBURG -- A new survey of nearly 800 registered voters in St. Petersburg found overwhelming opposition and skepticism about the Rays-Hines Stadium and Historic Gas Plant redevelopment proposal under consideration by City Council members and Pinellas County Commissioners.


The survey conducted (January 20, 2024- February 5, 2024) by the League of Women Voters of the St. Petersburg Area found:


69% of respondents strongly agreed and 11% agreed that the City and County should negotiate a better deal.


More than 72% of respondents are concerned that spending $700 million of property taxes on a stadium would affect the City’s ability to borrow money for an emergency such as a hurricane.


77% agreed that Rays-Hines should have to operate like any other corporation by raising its own money to pay for the land and facilities and pay property taxes, rather than receive City subsidies. Nearly two thirds, 63%, strongly agreed.


78% agreed, 66% "strongly," that property taxes should be spent on critical needs such as drinking water and wastewater rather than a stadium.


The League of Women Voters of the St. Petersburg Area is a nonpartisan organization that encourages participation in government, works to increase understanding of public policy issues, and influences policy through education and advocacy. 


To measure public opinion about the stadium and mixed-use development proposal, the League emailed its survey to all St. Petersburg registered voters with email addresses supplied to the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections. Of the 36,461 emails that did not bounce back or were not opted out, 779 people responded. Only one response per email was allowed, and surveys could not be forwarded.


"We are not holding this out as a scientific poll, but it is an important indication that St. Petersburg residents have widespread concern and skepticism about this proposed use of vast public resources," said Robin Davidov of the League of Women Voters of the St. Petersburg Area. “The League supports the redevelopment of the Historic Gas Plant in accordance with the City’s promise of attainable housing, equitable business opportunities, office space, meeting space, open space and overall equitable and impactful economic development that benefits all, especially those who were impacted by the original development of this land to build a stadium.”


The League began studying the proposed Rays Hines Stadium and Historic Gas Plant Development in 2022. The League has published articles, organized workshops for community leaders and testified before City Council, County Commissioners, and the Community Benefits Advisory Council.


More survey results:


When asked if Rays-Hines should pay a reasonable value for the public’s 60-acre property based on a new appraisal, 68% strongly agreed while 16% agreed.


The city has emphasized that affordable housing would be an important part of the development, but only 600 of the 4,400 rental units on site will be affordable. When asked if the city should stand by its commitment to provide more affordable housing either for sale or rent on the HGP site, 71% thought the City’s commitment was important. Additionally, 51% percent strongly agreed and 19% agreed that the City should meet its commitment to the community by selling the land at a fair market price and use the proceeds to build affordable housing or lower property taxes so working families can build equity in their homes.


The city currently earns about $640,000/year from Rays ticket sales. Under the new stadium term sheet, the City does not share revenues. Most respondents thought that the Rays should share revenues with the city, with 74% strongly agreeing and 16% agreeing.


The survey also included a link to the City’s project documents and the Rays-Hines’ presentation so that voters can read the project details for themselves.


Survey takers were reminded to check their voting status and re-request a mail ballot by contacting the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections. A phone number and website link for the SOE were provided.


The League extended an invitation to the city to participate in a community conversation to discuss and answer questions from the community about the project. Details on the community conversation are forthcoming.





1 Comment


Guest
Feb 15

It is the correct thing to do....that is have professionals scrutinize the deal...and follow up with a survey from everyday city residents.

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Homerun

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