TAMPA — It is proving harder than expected to put together the land needed for a Tampa Bay Rays ballpark near downtown Tampa, and now local officials are exploring another option in the West Shore area.
But even if all the pieces come together, Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan said he is less confident than ever that the county and Rays ownership can come to an agreement on how to pay for a ballpark that would lure the team from St. Petersburg....
TAMPA — Before sunrise on Monday morning, Tim Leiweke walked around the Channel District-Ybor City area that could someday house a new ballpark for the Tampa Bay Rays.
Leiweke, who has had a hand in building 18 stadiums and arenas around the country, saw the appeal. The area, just north of the Ybor Channel and Selmon Expressway, is close to both downtown and the port.
"You all have something that's really wonderful that we all wish we had in places like L.A.," Leiweke told the Tampa Bay Times. "It's called water."...
TAMPA — Several Hillsborough County commissioners are complaining about the speed of debris pickup after Hurricane Irma and said residents aren't being told how long they will have to wait.
At a board meeting Wednesday, Commissioner Ken Hagan said removal dates have been pushed back several times and asked why the county took down a digital map that told residents when their curbs might be cleared....
TAMPA -- Some Hillsborough County commissioners on Wednesday criticized the speed of debris pick up after Hurricane Irma and said residents aren’t being told how long it will take.
Commissioner Ken Hagan said he has heard the date for removal pushed back several times and noted the county took down a website map that told residents when their debris might be picked up.
“I see piles and piles of debris everywhere,” Hagan said....
FLORIDA KEYS — Shortly after 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Kim Ackerman closed the gates to the pastel-painted Shell World, a kitschy Key Largo gift shop near the gateway to the Keys.
She'd seen three customers that day.
But nearby, a sign of hope gleamed in LED letters over the highway: "U.S. 1 Keys is open to Key West."
Hurricane Irma interrupted the party in paradise, but only for a time. On Sunday – three weeks after the storm thrashed the chain of islands, killing 14 and causing tens of millions of dollars in damage — the Keys will officially reopen to tourists....
TAMPA — A state ethics investigation has found no probable cause to the complaints accusing Hillsborough County officials of steering a transportation contract to a politically connected firm.
The recommendation from investigator Melody Hadley from the Office of the Attorney General was included in a letter informing county commissioners Ken Hagan and Sandy Murman that after two years the ethics board would finally hear their case on Oct. 20....
TAMPA — Who has the authority to order an evacuation during a hurricane?
In Hillsborough County, that depends on whom you ask.
County Administrator Mike Merrill says he alone can call for an evacuation, and that Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn was out of line when he announced that some city residents needed to leave their homes two days before Hurricane Irma's approach. Buckhorn disagrees....
Backstreet Boys' Nick Carter thanks his former dance instructor from Tampa in touching tribute (w/ video)09/20/17 Blog
TAMPA -- Backstreet Boys’ Nick Carter appeared at a meeting of the Hillsborough County commission on Wednesday.
Tell me why.
County commissioners presented a commendation Wednesday morning to Sandy Karl, a local dance instructor retiring after 45 years in business. Along with her late husband, Karl owned the Karl and DiMarco School of Dance in Tampa.
And before he was a “Larger Than Life” popstar, Ruskin native Nick Carter was Karl’s student....
TAMPA — The pile on of Duke Energy continued Wednesday in Hillsborough County, where commissioners boasted how quickly most of their constituents had power after Hurricane Irma.
During a debriefing of the storm’s aftermath, commissioners repeatedly praised the response from Tampa Electric, the electric utility for most Hillsborough residents. About 300,000 of Tampa Electric’s Hillsborough customers lost power at some point during the storm and nearly all had power restored in less than a week....
TAMPA -- Hillsborough County commissioners approved $1.25 million in expenses related to Hurricane Irma on Wednesday with many more costs expected to come.
The county will spend $750,000 on overtime for employees who worked throughout the storm and another $500,000 for disaster-related emergency equipment.
The money was pulled from a $3 million fund set aside for emergencies. It doesn’t cover other expenses from the aftermath of the storm like debris pickup, flooding and damage....
Despite Hurricane Irma, Hillsborough remains on pace to unlock hotel tax that could pay for Rays ballpark09/19/17Tourism
TAMPA — Despite the threat of a catastrophic storm, it was business as usual at many Hillsborough County hotels in the days before Hurricane Irma bore down on the Tampa Bay region.
Between Sept. 3 and Sept. 9, county hotels actually saw a 10 percent increase in revenue over the same period last year, according to Visit Tampa Bay, the tourism promotion agency for Hillsborough.
And when the numbers are tallied, Visit Tampa Bay CEO Santiago Corrada doesn't believe Irma's pass through the bay area will have much of an impact on tourist development taxes collected on each night's stay at a hotel....
TAMPA — A council tasked with promoting diversity in Hillsborough County has been roiled by the recent appointment of the leader of a Southern heritage group.
Since the selection of David McCallister, commander of the local Sons of Confederate Veterans, to the Diversity Advisory Council, the head of the committee stepped down and another member resigned. Two more symbolically quit in protest just as their terms ended....
TAMPA — A second person has resigned symbolically from the Hillsborough County Diversity Advisory Council after the appointment of a known activist of Confederate causes to the panel.
In a letter to the county, Gary Howell, the director of practicum training & associate professor at Florida School of Professional Psychology, said he was stepping down after three years on the council, most recently as vice chair. Howell called the appointment of David McCallister to the diversity council " inconsiderate, disrespectful, and inappropriate," especially after the deadly protests in Charlottesville, Va., against the removal of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee....
People close to the negotiations don’t believe the Rays are going to announce whether they’re moving during the St. Petersburg mayoral race....
TAMPA — Officials trying to lure the Tampa Bay Rays across the water are aggressively working to secure a site for a ballpark in the Channel District-Ybor City area, and hope to make an announcement soon.
Hillsborough County and its lawyers have had dozens of conversations this year with the Rays, its financing team at Goldman Sachs and Populous, the architect for the new ballpark, according to legal records. They've discussed financing options, reviewed sites and compared economic development proposals....