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Friday, Oct 31, 2014

Otto: If the RNC was so successful, where’s my cut?

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So what I’m hearing from you doubters out there is that you don’t really believe last summer’s Republican National Convention generated $404 million and put Tampa on the map as just about the center of the universe.

Didn’t you people get those checks in the mail last summer? As for you small businesses such as restaurants and bars who lost your shirts waiting for the flood of business that never happened, try to look on the good side. At least the Bayshore got spruced up, and I believe we got a tank or two and some spy cameras out of the deal.

And years from now when people try to remember where Clint Eastwood was when he went on stage and talked to a chair, they just might remember that it was here in the Big Guava.

Listen, I don’t doubt for a second that somebody, somehow spent more than $400 million on this thing. Just feeding the 4,000 or so armed guards who patrolled the city for a week probably took up a goodly chunk of that in Cuban sandwiches alone.

How much of that $400 million made it into the pockets of people in Tampa Bay is something else altogether.

I do believe Mayor Bob when he says the amount of money is nothing compared with the exposure the area got, for better or worse.

I do wonder a bit about the claim there were “10 billion impressions” of Tampa Bay by the media as a result of the convention. That would almost dwarf our coverage of Bubba the Love Sponge.

Don’t you wonder how the University of Tampa, which did the study, came up with that number? I have this picture of dozens of UT students sitting in a classroom trying to work off their student loans going through every media available counting the number of times the words “Tampa,” “Tampa Bay” or “hotter than blazes’’ were used to add up to 10 billion.

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I thought the Honorable Catherine Peek McEwen pretty much nailed it Wednesday in a commentary we published in Mother Trib. The distinguished jurist is a federal bankruptcy court judge in the Middle District of Florida.

A long time ago — actually not that long ago, but it must seem a lifetime to her — she was just Cathy in the Tribune sports department, laboring with the rest of the unwashed slugs of the newsroom.

These days the judge is always among that rarest of species; she is a Rays’ season-ticket holder.

In her comments Wednesday, she reminded us that back in 1986 the St. Petersburg City Council voted to build what is now Tropicana Field with no promises from Major League Baseball.

MLB knew back then that the location was not the best option.

Years later when baseball expanded, they saw the field waiting and awarded the franchise already knowing it was likely to fail.

The judge suggests that MLB holds some of the responsibility for the current problems and if it wants to do the right thing, maybe it could chip in for that new stadium across the bay.

I think the judge is right on the mark.

Of course, there is always the possibility the city fathers and mothers of Tampa and St. Petersburg salted away all those millions they made from the Republican National Convention and plan on using it to build a $500 million stadium. Or maybe not.

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