House member looks to scuttle stadium money

EverBank Field capacity after renovations: 64,428
EverBank Field capacity after renovations: 64,428

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – State Rep. Bryan Avila, R-Hialeah, has filed a proposal intended to eliminate an unused pool of money for professional stadium upgrades.

The measure (HB 855), filed Thursday, is identical to a proposal Sen. Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa, filed last month seeking to repeal the 2014 Sports Development Program, which made available $13 million a year for stadium work.

A request is pending for $1 million a year, for at least 10 years, to help cover ongoing improvements at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity said the request satisfied state funding requirements, but the application does not have House support to advance.

The House also has blocked such requests in the past.

Money, which would come from sales taxes, has been unsuccessfully sought for improvements in past years at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Daytona International Speedway and Hard Rock Stadium in Miami-Dade County and for construction of a soccer stadium in Orlando.

In announcing plans to try to repeal the law, Lee said last month, "History has shown that team owners will make these investments without hard-working families having to foot the bill."