Presently, the Kansas City Royals lease with the county allows them to make money through a ⅜-cent sales tax. If the team wants to renew or change this number, it must be done through a public vote and with the blessing of the Jackson County Legislature. It has been reported that the Legislature is still waiting for the Royals to answer the most basic questions. For example, what is the language used in the ballot? How much information is on the ballet? Unfortunately, the Royals have not yet provided any direct answers. This means that right now the Royals couldn't even get to a public vote, much less win one.
The facts, however, show otherwise. Since 2002, the Anaheim Angels have spent $54 million on capital repairs/improvements with $12 million coming from the city. Additionally, a number of the so-called improvement projects were just upgrades that the team wanted, such as replacing their scoreboard to a newer model. Building permits show that the Angels were spending money from their pockets so that they could buy the cool, new gadget and not the contractually obligated maintenance.
In 2018, Worcester, Massachusetts, agreed to finance a substantial portion of taxpayer money to build a brand-new ballpark. Although the city would be borrowing around $100.8 million for this project (making it the 4th most expensive minor league ballpark to be built), city leaders justified this expense by stating how the ballpark would fund itself, if not make the city money in the long term. At the press conference announcing the deal, the city manager told everyone outright that “in essence, the project pays for itself”. What if there are cost issues after the ballpark is built?
Several days ago, the City of Richmond came to an agreement with the developers of the Richmond Flying Squirrels, a minor league baseball team. For years, the Squirrels have been threatening to relocate unless they were built a brand-new ballpark. When the owner wasn't threatening to leave, Major League Baseball (MLB) would step in and demand upgrades to the ballpark on the taxpayers dime. This year, MLB demanded that Richmond update the ballpark to the tune of $3.5 million worth of improvements.
In 2013, the city of Hillsboro, Oregon, built and paid $15 million in city bonds for the ballpark called Ron Tonkins Field so that their minor league team, the Hillsboro Hops, could have a home field. Now that 10 years have passed, both Major League Baseball and the owners of the Hillsboro Hops believe that the team needs a new home. Last year, MLB called on the city to substantially upgrade the ballpark or else the team may relocate.
So even though this is public land and the parties will be receiving significant taxpayer support, the city of St. Petersburg is denying all interview requests or interviews in general. A big reason for the secrecy is likely due to the hope that the deal can be done as quickly as possible. Out of nowhere several weeks ago, the Tampa Bay Rays owner stated that if a deal wasn't done by the end of 2023, then there would be no deal at all.