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Discussions of Spectrum Field Upgrades Continue

Bright House Field

The Philadelphia Phillies and Clearwater, FL officials are still discussing major upgrades to Spectrum Field, but work remains in obtaining crucial county and state funding. 

The Phillies and the City of Clearwater are pitching a $79.9-million plan to upgrade spring training facilities, including Spectrum Field and the adjacent Carpenter Complex. The financial framework calls for $10 million from the Phillies, along with $16 million in a local sales tax (dedicated by Clearwater), $40 million from Pinellas County Tourist Development Council (TDC) funds, and $13.7 million from a state fund designated for keeping Grapefruit League teams in Florida. Clearwater has committed to the project, but the ability for the upgrades to move forward is still contingent on finalizing the remaining public funding sources.

For one of its next steps in the process, the city is expected to lobby for TDC funds early next year. Money through a state grant would be sought if the county and city can come to a consensus on the project, but the timing of when these pieces could fall into place remains to be seen. More from the Tampa Bay Times:

[Parks and Recreation Director Kevin] Dunbar said he expects to present the application for conceptual approval to the County Commission in January for $40 million in bed tax funding, a 6 percent sales tax on hotels and motels that pays for marketing and capital projects to enhance tourism.

He said it could be presented in February to the Tourist Development Council, which allocates funding from the bed tax. Dunbar estimates the city will submit its application for a $13.7 million state grant in April after “we really are very firm on where we’re at with the county.”

But Visit St. Pete/Clearwater Chief Operating Officer Tim Ramsberger said that timeline is not guaranteed.

The Tourist Development Council’s cycle for accepting capital project applications for bed taxes closes Jan. 15. Because Clearwater’s application involves a stadium rather than a museum or nonprofit, it is being submitted independently from the cycle, in accordance with county guidelines. But county officials still must first evaluate the total amount of funds being requested from all projects before moving forward on a timeline for any approvals.

Initially, the Phillies and the city were working under a December 31 deadline that allowed the club to walk away from the proposal if the additional funding had not been secured, with the city on the hook for reimbursement of project expenses incurred by the team. The two sides have reportedly come to a verbal agreement to extend that deadline, however, allowing for more time to work on finalizing the other funding sources.

Should the renovation plan move forward, the Phillies would agree to a 20-year lease extension that lengthens their commitment to Spectrum Field and the Carpenter Complex until 2043. The team would also cover any cost overruns in the project.

RELATED STORIES: Spectrum Field Upgrades Could Face Hurdle in County FundingClearwater Moving Forward With Spectrum Field UpgradesPhillies, Clearwater Pitch Spectrum Field Upgrades

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