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New stadium for the Rays may not add to Tampa's economy

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) - The Tampa Bay Rays dream stadium in Ybor City has a big price tag and so far few details on how it will be financed.

The Rays principal owner has said the team can commit $150 million to help fund the facility. The total price is anticipated to be more than $892 million.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn says taxpayer dollars will not be used to pay the balance. 

"So there's a lot of ifs and there's a lot of scenarios that we have to work out and there's a lot of answers that we don't have today," said Buckhorn.

Andrew Zimbalist is a professor of economics at Smith College and has written extensively on the funding of sports stadiums across the country and says finding all of the answers to put a financial deal together will not be easy for Tampa.

"The difficulty here is that there are many moving parts for a deal like this," said Zimbalist.

He also believes the financial gain for a city to build a new sports facility is small.

"Generally speaking, a sports team or a new sports stadium by itself does not have an impact on a local economy," said Zimbalist.

However, he understands the Rays desire to build a new facility because it could draw more fans to games.

"I'm sorry to say you do have one of the least appealing stadiums in Major League Baseball in the Trop and you have had over the years, I'm sure I don't have to remind your listeners, one of the weakest teams from a competitive standpoint in baseball and there is not a city in Major League Baseball that would be supporting its team robustly under those circumstances," said Zimbalist.

After studying the issue for years, Zimbalist believes a new facility may help the team, but he doesn't feel it will add to the overall economy of the area.

"Fundamentally what's happening is, it's more complicated than this but on a basic level, what's happening is, people are spending their money at a ball park instead of going to a local theater or a local bowling alley or a local restaurant," said Zimbalist.

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