Florida Pilot

A compendium of random thoughts from a former Washington Beltway insider who is now having a lot more fun flying small airplanes in Central Florida.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Nick Bolla and the Tampa Bay Rays

At first glance, there is nothing in common between the story about Nick Bolla (Hulk Hogan's son) and the Tampa Bay Rays' attempt to get the taxpayers to pay for a new $450 million for the team to play in but how the stories have been covered is quite interesting.

In the case of Bolla, the local media have been aggressively on the story from day one, even to the point of wondering why it was taking so long for the police to make any charges or release a report. When the report was released (130 pages) the entire document was made available online for review by members of the public. Although the fate of Nick Bolla is not going to have any kind of effect on the public, all details of this incident are being fully reported and explored.

On the other hand, the Tampa Bay Rays' plan to have taxpayers finance a new stadium for them will have a significant effect on everyone in St. Petersburg and most probably Pinellas county. The scope of effect is orders of magnitude more than anything about Nick Bolla. Yet, media coverage of the Ray's proposal has been primarily limited to publication of press releases produced by the Rays. To date, any actual investigative work has been gentle.

Among the issues raised in the Rays' plan that have been downplayed by the media are:

(1) the oft-quoted $150 million contribution to the stadium by Rays owners turns out to be only a promise to pay somewhat more rent for the new stadium although still way below market.

(2) the Rays started negotiating with the city back in March and city officials repeatedly lied to citizens inquiring about the plans for Al Lang field.

(3) although the Rays claim to have been working for a year and a half on their plan, it has the appearance of something put together in a big hurry.

(4) the Rays claim to have released a 600 page document discussing their plans but this has not been made available online for public review (contrast this with Bolla's police report). The Rays put up a web site http://www.majorleaguedowntown.com but that contains nothing of any real substance.

What is outrageous is that the media is more intersted in covering the actions of the son of a minor celebrity that has no real effect on anyone that in delving into the multitude of questions concening the owners of the Rays attempt to extract hundreds of millions of dollars from the taxpayers for their private benefit.


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