APRIL FOOLS —
MANATEE COUNTY — Manatee Parks and Recreation Department officials want this to be a stadium for the people.
And that’s exactly how it will be funded.
In an unprecedented move, Manatee County commissioners last week approved a financing plan to construct a professional football stadium just east of DeSoto Speedway off State Road 64. The county already has negotiated with the private landowner, and officials say construction will be paid through a $600 million, 30-year bond issue at 7.35%.
Several construction companies have entered bids for the project, which will include 65,000 seats under a retractable roof.
“In essence, it’s a smaller version of the new Cowboy Stadium in Dallas,” said Parks and Recreation Department Director Candy Turner said of the design.
Cowboy Stadium is regarded as one of the most elaborate and expensive stadiums in the country.
Once site plans are approved, county officials estimate construction will take three years. To keep costs down, officials said they likely would not hire locally for the construction.
County officials admitted they have not had any discussions with any National Football League team regarding moving to Manatee.
“It’s an, ‘If we build it, they will come,’” said Manatee County Commissioner Larry Bustler. “We are confident an NFL team would find our county an attractive option, and we know our residents will respond with their wallets.”
Bustler said Manatee’s demographics compare favorably to Green Bay, Wis., home of the Packers, one of the NFL’s most storied franchises. At 104,057 residents, Green Bay is about one-third the size of Manatee, he said. Given those statistics, commissioners concluded an NFL team would be successful here.
Turner said she doesn’t expect Manatee’s close proximity to Tampa and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to be a problem.
“They’re really not that good, anyway,” she said.