On Thursday, the Clearwater City Council approved a plan to move $6 million from a proposed bridge project to help cover Philadelphia Phillies‘ spring-training facility upgrades.
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 from the city, $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.
The bulk of Clearwater’s contribution will come from Penny for Pinellas funds–a local sales tax–but the city only had $10 million from that revenue source available for the project. To make up for the gap, the city council voted to approve a measure to take $6 million from its Sand Key Bridge Replacement fund, ensuring that its contribution for Spectrum Field upgrades can be met. More from a Tampa Bay Newspapers story that was published prior to Thursday’s vote:
The unusual transfer is necessary to make up for a shortfall in the city’s portion of the stadium and training center renovation costs, [Assistant City Manager Jill] Silverboard told the Clearwater Beacon on Monday.
“We are trying to put together the right amount of funding commitments from all our sources, both internally and externally,” she said. “We thought $10 million would be sufficient for the city’s portion but during negotiations, (we) realized we were going to need a little bit more money.”
Clearwater City Attorney Pam Aiken warned council members on June 7 that the city didn’t have the entire $16 million. It had just $10 million of its portion of the renovations. That led to the city’s decision to take the $6 million from the bridge renovation fund….
Meanwhile, renovations for Sand Key Bridge, which carries Gulf Boulevard across Clearwater Pass between Clearwater Beach and the high-rise condominium “canyon” of Sand Key, are still years away. Built as a drawbridge in the 1960s and reconstructed as a high-level fixed span bridge in 1994, council members believe there’s plenty of time to put the $6 million back for any future bridge renovations.
As part of the project, Spectrum Field would see improvements aimed at addressing existing deficiencies and upgrading the fan experience, including a renovated club level, new seating, expanded offices and upgraded air conditioning. At the Carpenter Complex, players would see an expanded clubhouse, more office space, new dining facilities, and a 160-bed dorm. 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
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