Dozier: $27 Million Dollar Seminole Boosters Deal is “Lipstick on a Pigskin”

December 9, 2021

Kristin Dozier, who is a Leon County Commissioner representing District 5 posted a response on her Facebook page, to a recent news release published by David Coburn, the outgoing Director of Athletics at Florida State University. In his release, Coburn slammed opponents of the controversial project, stating “Unfortunately, some members of our community are sharing misleading and blatantly false information about this project. They are attempting to portray the project as wasteful spending for luxury seating. This is simply not true.”

County Commissioner Kristin Dozier Responds to Outgoing FSU Athletics Director David Coburn Night Before Vote on $27 Million Seminole Boosters Deal for Luxury Stadium Seating.

Lipstick on a pigskin?

We all recognize how important Florida State (FSU) is to our community and our regional economy. We also know the best way to grow our economy is to work with FSU, FAMU and TCC to support start-ups, recruit new businesses who want to tap into the research and talent at our universities and to train workers for new jobs and opportunities.
We’ve made remarkable progress in recent years, but we still lag behind many cities in Florida. We have talked about diversifying our economy for decades. The Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce hosts field trips to Greenville, Chattanooga and Boulder to spark the imagination and to learn about best practices. In the last 50 years, how many Chamber meetings have focused on the need to diversify our economy, retain talent and grow our businesses?

Photo Renderings of Luxury Stadium Seating Proposed by the Seminole Boosters | April 2021


We talk about shared goals all the time. We make plans and create new programs. And yet now, at the moment when we decided to invest in our future and set aside 12% of a 20 year, one penny sales tax for economic development, we’re asked to commit most of our money to a football stadium. A project that will dramatically limit our ability to achieve our goals and to keep the promise we made to voters.
“The amount of misinformation that is being propagated is alarming, and everyone who supports FSU should be concerned.”
Not only should everyone at FSU be concerned, ALL residents of Leon County and Tallahassee should be concerned about the misinformation AND the missing information as we make a decision that will impact our community for the next 18 years and beyond.
Are we really surprised when a controversial issue like this is distilled to simple talking points like ‘luxury seating’?

FSU Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Coburn Speaks at Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency Meeting, 2021


True, Blueprint has been asked to pay for emergency lighting, code compliance, additional water coolers, elevators, etc. and not luxury seating. But asking us to pay for basic maintenance so the Boosters can focus on the ‘fan experience’ doesn’t make us feel any better. Most of us have to make choices all the time and pay for house repairs before we can afford to remodel the kitchen.
True, the economic impact of FSU is significant. $3 billion of total economic impact and 35,907 jobs is a powerful reminder of how important higher education is to everyone in our region. A majority of the emails and comments I’ve received from opponents recognize how important FSU is to our economy and clearly support FSU – and more than a few work at FSU.
However, based on an analysis by Visit Tallahassee and Downs-St. Germain, an average football season contributes $80.1 million to our economy. This is significant, of course, but FSU football is just one of the many ways we draw visitors to Tallahassee. In fact, the Fairgrounds has an annual economic impact of $79.2 million and 202,000 visitors.

Of course football is important, but it isn’t the only game in town.
FSU football’s annual economic impact is also a small fraction of FSU’s $3 billion annual economic impact. For the last five years, OEV has worked hard to develop a strategic approach to job creation which is based in large part on our unique assets like the MagLab, two great research universities and a talented workforce. This work has and will continue to help FSU and FAMU increase funding for research, start new businesses and attract private sector investment.
So let’s be clear, where some see “misleading and blatantly false information about this project”, I see ‘talking points’ that seem to be working.
There are a lot of questions about why this request was made in the first place; why has it been rushed before we see our new Strategic Plan in February; and why is it so hard to get a straight answer about how this will impact OEV’s budget and we’re left piecing together information from other agenda Items.
It’s simple to focus on fairness – Blueprint gave FAMU $10 million for Bragg so we must give FSU $20 million for Doak. But this isn’t a simple question. It is a disservice to everyone who works hard to create jobs in our community to say ‘either you’re with us or against us.’
FSU Boosters raise a lot of money and I can’t blame FSUAA or the Seminole Boosters for requesting Blueprint money. If someone told you this would be a simple request, they weren’t paying attention to our community and they have put all of us in a difficult situation. Dividing our community and further eroding public trust in local government.
If someone with in Blueprint, City or County government decided to help FSU by delaying a report about the Convention Center until after the May FSU Board of Trustees meeting so this $20 million could be ‘reallocated’ to another FSU project, they should be held responsible. They did not follow Board direction to bring us a report on the Convention Center and advocated for a project before the Board received the analysis. And they should also be held responsible for dividing our community and for implying that OEV could afford $26.45 million without undermining the very reason it was created and funded by the Blueprint sales tax.

It is time to focus on what economic development means for our community and why it matters. We should work with FSU, FAMU and TCC and others on strategies that will help all of us succeed. And we should review our management and governance structure to ensure we are good stewards of the public’s investment and we do not create a political slush fund that can be used by the few instead of benefiting the many.

Kristin Dozier is a Leon County Commissioner representing District 5. Dozier recently announced that she is not running for re-election to her seat in the upcoming 2022 election cycle.

One Response

  1. Thank you Commissioner Dozier for your usual well reasoned, researched position in the interests of all of our community.

    And run for Mayor please !!!

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