The City of Clearwater is proceeding with proposed spring training facility upgrades for the Philadelphia Phillies, and will pursue additional funding sources.
The city and the Phillies are exploring a plan to pump $79.9 million into renovations to Spectrum Field and the adjacent Carpenter Complex. Under the terms of the plan, the city would contribute $16 million while the Phillies pay $10 million, with remaining funding sources including $40 million from Pinellas County Tourist Development Council funds and $13.7 million from a state fund designated for keeping Grapefruit League teams in Florida. As part of the deal, the Phillies would extend their lease for 20 additional years, to 2043.
Putting the full funding model together will require significant discussion over the coming months, but Clearwater is advancing the proposal to the next steps. The city has decided to move forward with its $16 million contribution, while also agreeing to lobby the county and state for funding. That is one step in a longer process, with plenty of factors about the proposal’s funding still to be determined. More from Tampa Bay Newspapers:
The city is expected to request $40 million in funds from the county Tourist Development Council, apply for a state grant aimed at retaining spring training teams for almost $14 million and has agreed to pay $16 million from its Penny for Pinellas fund. An additional $10 million will be provided by the Phillies.
However, city attorney Pam Aiken warned council members during a meeting June 7 at city hall that the city does not currently have enough money allocated in Penny for Pinellas to cover the expenditure and that said decision would need to be made to source the funding.
“Just so you are aware, you do not currently have $16 million established for this project,” Aiken said. “So, there will be a point during the summer – during the budget and finalization of these agreements – that we will have to determine where you will provide that additional funding. You do not have it in Penny IV.”
Among the upcoming financial issues facing the city are the proposed homestead exemption amendment, large capital investments set to begin in 2021 and the city’s unfunded $55 million downtown waterfront revitalization plan, Imagine Clearwater.
We took a closer look at the proposal earlier this week. Spectrum Field upgrades would be aimed at sprucing up some areas of the ballpark while improving the fan experience, with a renovated club level, new seating, expanded offices, and upgraded air conditioning among the proposed projects. For Carpenter Complex, the upgrades would include an expanded clubhouse, more office space, new dining facilities (complete with expanded nutritional tracking both for spring training and the regular season, when minor leaguers and rookies are training and playing), and 160-bed dorm.
Spectrum Field first opened in 2004. In addition to Phillies’ spring training exhibitions, it also hosts regular-season games for the Clearwater Threshers (High A; Florida State League). The Carpenter Complex predates the ballpark, having been dedicated by the city in 1967.
RELATED STORIES: Phillies, Clearwater Pitch Spectrum Field Upgrades