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OPINION: True Shame in the Seminole Boosters $27 Million Dollar Bailout Deal

OPINION

BY Bob Lotane

February 6, 2022

OurTallahassee Publisher Bob Lotane Looks at the $27 Million Dollar Seminole Boosters Deal. The final vote on the deal is on February 24th.

For the sake of argument, this column will stipulate that Doak Campbell Stadium truly needs $20 million in infrastructure repairs. And let’s further stipulate that in the billions of dollars that flow through the many fungible accounts of the University, that the $20 million is just not obtainable right now for the repairs.

With those stipulations in place let’s further assume that the only place to get the $20 million is by tapping the 1% Blueprint sales tax that the city/county agency collects from taxpayers. Finally, let’s assume – despite overwhelming public testimony and sentiment being against spending the Office of Economic Development (OEV) money on stadium repairs – that this is truly the best use for these resources to develop our local economy.

With those stipulations and assumptions in place, we’re still faced with one powerful question: Why, if we are handing the Seminole Boosters a $20 million check to fix its stadium, do we have to also pay the interest on the entire deal?

We are handing them all of the principal, why in the hell do we also have to pay the interest, too? That is about as big a waste of money as the $20 million the Boosters paid former coach Willie Taggart not to coach (Coincidence? You decide).

Florida State University Athletics Director David Coburn Leans Into Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce President Sue Dick at the December 2020 Blueprint Meeting.

If there were an equivalent to this bad deal, it would be like going to a bank and asking them to write a loan for renovations on your house and telling them they have to pay the interest on that loan. Oh, and by the way, you’re also not going to pay them back the principal. You would be laughed out of that bank so fast it would make your head spin.

Yet, that’s what we’re doing. And we’re not talking a little bit of interest; we’re talking almost $7 million in interest. $7 million that buys us nothing, bupkis, zilch, zippo, a donut hole.

What don’t we get?

  • We don’t get the $5 million that the Sheridan family says they would add to in order to build a brand, spanking new performing arts center.
  • We don’t get $7 million worth of an academy for kids living on the margins to teach job/life/advancement skills to address our gaping income disparity.
  • We don’t get $7 million to fund micro-business loans, loans for startups, money to attract new business, etc.
  • We don’t get $7 million to enhance, light, and transform run-down commercial areas to attract or expand business.
A member of the public speaks at a recent Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency Meeting

We could go on all day with what we don’t get. What do we get?

  • We get to spend money we don’t have and pay the interest on money that we will never get to use.
  • We get to put millions of dollars into a facility that allows us to enter – if you purchase a pricey ticket – seven times a year.
  • We get to fund what Seminole Boosters officials told us no one else will pay for because they can’t put their name on it.
Renderings of the Forthcoming Seminole Booster's Renovations of the Doak Campbell Stadium

Which raises the question: How much of the 80 odd million dollars’ worth of stadium improvements people are willing to pay for is going to have people’s names on them? Again, that would be zilch, zippo, nothing. That was pure BS the Boosters were pitching at recent Blueprint meetings.

While we’re on the subject of BS, so is the line about needing this $20 million (for the non-grandiose projects) to free up $80 million in booster money to fund projects that people would want to “put their name on” that will improve the “fan experience.”

Folks, if the FSU football team sucks, no amount of fan experience will get the necessary amount of people in that stadium. However, put together a top 20 football team, and people will walk over shards of glass and sit on the bleachers of nails to come to games.

The bottom line is simple: This deal will cost Tallahassee/Leon County taxpayers $26.5 million – one-quarter of which will go to help fund some hedge fund manager’s beach house in Naples or Nantucket; some bond trader’s high-end Tesla in Chicago and/or some financial shark’s mansion in the Hamptons.

PT Barnum was right, there’s a sucker born every minute; unfortunately, some of them have a vote on this deal.

MORE ON THE SEMINOLE BOOSTERS DEAL ON OT TV >>>

READ MORE >>>

FEBRUARY 24TH MEETING DETAILS >>>

The final vote on the deal will be at Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency Board Meeting (OEV Meeting) on Thursday, February 24 from 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm.

The meeting will be held at City Hall, 300 S. Adams Street, Tallahassee Florida, 32311. Session will be going on and parking will be very limited. We suggest parking on the street around Park Avenue or Kleman Plaza if you plan on attending the event.

Add event to your Google CalendarAdd event to iCal.

E-MAIL DECISION MAKERS >>>

 The below list includes City and County Commissioners, and executives of Blueprint, as well as leadership at the Seminole Boosters, Florida State, the Chamber, and the Florida State Board of Trustees. You can copy and paste the below email list into your email client to email the key decision makers of this project.

john.dailey@talgov.com
reese.goad@talgov.com
Ben.Pingree@blueprint2000.org
michael.alford@fsu.edu
president@fsu.edu
dianne.williams-cox@talgov.com
curtis.richardson@talgov.com
jack.porter@talgov.com
jeremy.matlow@talgov.com
longv@leoncountyfl.gov
autumnc@leoncountyfl.gov
eburr@greenpointellc.com
pcollins@forgecapitalpartners.com
cdudley@flapartners.com
jgraganella@pmains.com
Cparedes@oevforbusiness.org
admin@ourtallahassee.com
sdick@talchamber.com
SDixon@primemeridianbank.com
MinorR@leoncountyfl.gov
JacksonJ@leoncountyfl.gov
WelchB@leoncountyfl.gov
Dozierk@leoncountyfl.gov
Proctorb@leoncountyfl.gov
MaddoxN@leoncountyfl.gov
CummingsC@leoncountyfl.gov

Since we launched, we’ve been proud to break stories that have been picked up on the local, state, and national level, but we rely on our readers for your feedback, tips, leads, and insights. Have a correction? Want to offer a quote, or pitch us a story? e-mail us at admin@ourtallahassee.com. 

4 Responses

  1. Great article! This is a bad deal and the money should be going for the list of things we won’t get by having the money go for the stadium.

  2. “… there’s a sucker born every minute; unfortunately, some of them have a vote on this deal.”

    Yes, and the real suckers are the taxpayers, who don’t get a direct vote on the deal.

  3. The two people that could turn this around would be Mayor Dailey and County Commissioner Nick Maddox. But, they are choosing to put their re-election campaign interests ahead of the citizens and taxpayers they serve.

    They believe that they can draw huge campaign contributions from this deal and that is sad. They are showing that they cannot follow rules and laws and they show no leadership.

    Their only campaign platforms are special interest and it is time to vote John Dailey and Nick Maddox out!

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