Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a rising Republican star, made headlines in April for revoking Disney World’s self-governing privileges after Disney’s criticism of the Parental Rights in Education Law.
Now, DeSantis has reportedly targeted another Florida-based company for taking a political stance where it wasn’t wanted.
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Specifically, DeSantis is planning to veto a bill earmarking $35 million for Major League Baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays’ spring training facility, OutKick reported Thursday.
OutKick chacterized the governor’s plans as retaliation for the Rays’ actions on gun-related issues.
In a statement, the Rays claimed to have contributed $55,000 to Everytown for Gun Safety, a left-wing nonprofit dedicated to gun control. In 2018, the nonprofit filed a brief against a Florida gun law. It has also faced criticism for stretching the definition of the phrase “school shooting” and for pocketing huge sums of money from former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
“The Rays organization stands committed to actionable change and has made a $55,000 commitment to Everytown for Gun Safety’s Support Fund,” the baseball team wrote on Twitter last month, after the horrific shootings in upstate New York and Uvalde, Texas.
“Rather than our usual game coverage on social media tonight, we’ve partnered with Everytown to amplify facts about gun violence in America.”
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) May 26, 2022
Critics have pointed out that the Florida Senate requested $35 million for a “sports training and youth tournament complex” without mentioning the Rays by name.
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The request for funding reads, “The total project will include several full-size practice fields including one stadium field with lighting and spectator facilities, team clubhouse and locker room facilities, indoor and outdoor training facilities, kitchen and dining facilities, player housing, and associated parking, roadway entrance/exit, stormwater, and other associated infrastructure improvements.”
The Tampa Bay Times speculated in March that Pasco County residents might benefit from the $35 million investment.
However, local representatives have characterized the Rays owners — who are billionaires — as the primary beneficiary of this legislation. Plus, Pasco County residents would have access to the facility only for off-season tournaments.
“The whole region benefits if we’re able to keep our major league teams in the area,” Pasco Commission Chair Kathryn Starkey told the Tampa Bay Times.
“It would be a wonderful addition to the community,” Greg Armstrong, chairman of the public policy committee for the Greater Pasco Chamber of Commerce, told the newspaper. “Assuming the Rays are going to stay, and I guess they are, we need baseball in the Tampa Bay area.”
As of Thursday, OutKick expects DeSantis to announce his final decision shortly.