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Poll: St. Pete voters opposed to public financing of new Rays ballpark

Tampa Bay RaysWe’re not sure this will change the dynamics of the discussions, but it’s worth noting: a poll of St. Petersburg voters showed heavy opposition to any public financing of a new Tampa Bay Rays ballpark.

The poll, from, called 1,424 registered voters on Nov. 12 to gauge attitudes on a variety of issues in the city. The margin was pretty clear: 69.5 percent answered no to this question: “Would you support the city taking out loans to help build a new Rays baseball stadium?” Only 24.9 percent replied in the affirmative, and 5.5 percent registered as unsure. (Interestingly, when you break down the results by party, Republican were slightly more receptive to the notion than Democrats and independents.)

It’s important to note that public funding or financing of ballparks never do well in polls. But, having said that, it’s also important to note that public approval of ballparks go up once the facility is built: witness Target Field, the popular home of the Minnesota Twins, is now very popular among city residents even though there was substantial opposition to it among Minneapolis residents.

The other issue in the poll that’s interesting and may be a factor in future talks: Mayor Bill Foster is a popular figure in the city, registering approval from 55.6 percent of those polls, with support fairly equally split among Democratic, Republican and independent voters. Foster has been an absolutist during new-ballpark talks, saying he fully expects the Rays to fulfill the terms of the Tropicana Field lease, relenting only to say the Rays can consider any proposals for a St. Pete ballpark. One was unveiled by developer Frank LeClair, but not much has happened since a glitzy presentation short on details like financing.

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