TAMPA (FOX 13) - A snag in stadium renovations negotiations between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tampa Sports Authority is jeopardizing the deal, Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan said Thursday.
Hagan sits on the TSA board and said, under the current contract with the team, the authority is responsible to pay for upgrades including new scoreboards, televisions and a new sound system.
Those renovations would cost TSA $26 million. Hagan said, about a year ago -- though the Bucs said it was nine months -- the team came to the table with a new proposal. He said the deal has since been negotiated, with the Bucs matching the $26 million for their own stadium enhancements in exchange for TSA allowing the team to play a preseason game out of the Tampa Bay area; the team is already allowed to play one regular season or preseason "home game" elsewhere.
Hagan said the Bucs recently came to the table with changes.
"Suddenly, two weeks ago, they came up with the idea of having to move a second regular season game and for me that is really a non-starter," he said.
The Bucs want the ability to play a second "home game" either elsewhere in Florida or outside of the U.S.
Hagan said the TSA asked for other concessions from the Bucs in return.
"I told them for us to even consider that, they would need to bring a Manchester United game here, or a Super Bowl, he said. "We would not let them play two games in the same city because our concern is that they could potentially build up a fan base in that community and then use that as leverage against us during future lease discussions."
The Glazer family, which owns the Bucs, also owns the Manchester United soccer team.
Hagan told FOX 13 the TSA also had several other financial-related requests that could benefit taxpayers, but the organization was turned down.
"I was very disappointed because we've been negotiating for probably about a year now and it's been a very challenging experience, to say the least, and I thought that we were at the finish line and then at the last minute they come up with this idea," he said.
Bucs Chief Operating Officer Michael Ford released the following statement:
"Over the last nine months, we have conducted very positive discussions with the Tampa Sports Authority regarding the state-of-the-art upgrades that ensure that Raymond James Stadium remains among the best venues in all of sports. In our discussions, we have communicated our interest in making a substantial private investment of about $52 million to $75 million to enhance the current stadium plans.
"During our conversations, many ideas have been discussed in an effort to continue growing our fan base in Tampa and securing large events such as the Super Bowl to our community. We look forward to concluding these discussions and announcing the exciting projects that are on the horizon in the very near future."
Hagan said it's unclear where the negotiations will go next.
"I can tell you it's a dramatic difference between negotiating with the Tampa Bay Lightning and negotiating with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers," he said.
Hagan said, regardless of what happens, the TSA will spend about $26 million to bring the stadium up to "NFL standards" and have it ready 2017, when Raymond James Stadium will host the NCAA College Football National Championship Game.