Koch-backed group takes aim at Rays stadium plan

- A conservative activist group is taking aim at the plan for a new Rays stadium in Ybor City.  They say it will amount to corporate welfare if any tax dollars are used for the project.

The group, Americans for Prosperity, was founded by Charles and David Koch, well-known businessmen and conservative activists. They rolled out a new digital ad that shows an animated baseball player sliding into taxpayers.

"Taxpayer dollars should not be leveraged to prop up the bottom line of professional sports teams. We believe that's not the role of government," said Andres Malave, spokesman for Americans for Prosperity Florida.

"I very rarely agree with the Koch brothers on anything and I disagree with them on this," offered Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.

He believes any public contribution will be relatively small. Buckhorn says any public funds would come from tourist taxes and special taxing districts which, he says, won't affect the average taxpayer.

He also says decisions should be made locally.

"It's not up to these outside special interest money groups to come in and carpet-bomb everyone with disinformation," said Buckhorn. 

Molave says his group has many supporters in Tampa and Hillsborough County. He says even tourist taxes and special taxing districts amount to corporate welfare.

"I think residents of the Tampa Bay area already support these teams at the box office, they should not also have to support them at the tax office," said Malave.  

His group is circulating a petition to Hillsborough County commissioners opposing public funding for a new stadium. 

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