Could Ed Smith Stadium Be A Homeless Shelter?

State Sen. Mike Bennett (R-Bradenton) is pushing for a bill in Florida that would require pro sports teams to get voter approval before they spend taxpayer money on stadiums.

Will become a homeless shelter?

If not, millions of dollars may have to be paid to the state, if State Sen. Mike Bennett (R-Bradenton) gets his bill passed in Tallahassee. 

Bennett has tried to get a law enacted to require voter approval for cities and counties to use taxpayer dollars for pro sports teams and enforce a little known law about using taxpayer-funded stadiums as homeless shelters according to the Associated Press:

"He discovered that back in the late '80s state lawmakers included a provision into state law that says that sports stadiums and arenas are supposed to be utilized by local governments for homeless shelters. The provision was reportedly put into place by the late Sen. Jack Gordon, a Miami Beach Democrat.

Bennett says that hasn't happened. So he wants the stadiums and arenas — and the sports teams that use them — to return as much as nearly $275 million they have received from the state over the last two decades." 

The story went on to say that it could affect spring training facilties in Bradenton and Sarasota in addition to the Tampa Bay Times Forum used by the Tampa Bay Lightning, Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg as well as Raymond James Field in Tampa. The bill was supported unanimously, 8-0, by a senate panel on Monday. 

Bennett's Bill, which was originally filed Nov. 3, 2011, states:

"Requiring the county commission in a county in which a professional sports facility is located to establish a local homeless coalition if a local homeless program does not exist in that county; requiring that, by a specified date, the professional sports franchise that plays in a facility that benefited from financial assistance from the state, and the county in which the facility is located, provide the Auditor General with documentation that a homeless shelter has been operating at the facility from the effective date of the contract between the county and the professional sports franchise; requiring the Auditor General to levy a specified fine against the professional sports franchise and the county if, after a specified date, the Auditor General determines that a homeless shelter is not operating at the facility until such time that the professional sports franchise and county are operating a homeless shelter, etc."

This week, the Orioles received a blow to getting more tourism from Baltimore to Sarasota for Spring Training when

The Orioles told SRQ magazine that they are trying to help the airport finding options for direct lights to the Baltimore area:

"We are certainly disappointed that this has, in fact, happened," said Monica Barlow, Orioles public relations director. Orioles officials called Piccolo on Tuesday and offered assistance in remedying the situation. Right now, the home page for the Orioles still has prominent marketing for travel packages to Sarasota. Barlow notes Orioles fans can still travel to Sarasota using connecting flights with other airlines"



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