Blueprint Board votes to move forward with funding process for Doak Campbell renovations

Updated: May. 27, 2021 at 9:32 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency voted nine to three Thursday night in favor of moving forward with the funding process for Doak Campbell Stadium repairs.

Before Thursday’s meeting began, protests outside City Hall pushed back against using local sales tax dollars for repairs to Doak Campbell Stadium.

FSU is looking at a $120 million dollar improvement project to the stadium, and asked Blueprint for $20 million to use on infrastructure repairs.

About 20 people attended THE protest outside before the meeting, arguing that Doak repairs are not a good use of the penny sales tax dollars. Instead, the group wanted other Blueprint projects, such as fairground improvements or sidewalks along Tharpe Street, to be pushed up the list.

“I was here for voting the original Blueprint sales tax for transportation. And a football stadium is not transportation,” said Tharpe Street resident Joe Lama.

“I want to know how many of those dollars are going to make it one block south of Gaines Street. Because we do not see football games that are contributing to the economic development on the south side,” said Max Epstein, a member of Stand Up Tallahassee.

According to the agenda item, in 2018, FSU home football games brought $99.9 million dollars into the community.

Seminole Booster President and CEO Michael Alford discussed the project with WCTV on Tuesday, and explained that while FSU is working to raise $100 million for the project, they are only requesting $20 million from Blueprint.

FSU football coach Mike Norvell spoke to Commissioners about the funding as well.

“I understand the challenges that we have here in Tallahassee, and I hear that. And I want to be a part of a program that makes a difference,” said Norvell.

Alford and FSU basketball coach Leonard Hamilton also spoke to Commissioners asking for the funding.

Commissioners discussed the issue for over an hour.

Mayor John Dailey began the discussion, declaring his strong support. He also pointed out that it’s not an allocation vote, but rather, the beginning of the process for full consideration.

“The return on investment is strong, it has been proven,” said Mayor John Dailey. “Do you support Florida State, or do you not? I support the university.”

County Commissioners Nick Maddox and Jimbo Jackson were also in favor.

“Increasing the number of people who come to our games increases the likelihood that they will spend money in our community,” said Commissioner Nick Maddox. “The economic impact will offset some of these funds and be spent in some of the communities that are the majority of people look just like me.”

“This is a good community partner. This is an organization that gives back to our community, and they don’t just give back by building beds, they provide sales dollars, they provide jobs to people who live in 32304 and 32301,” said Commissioner Jimbo Jackson.

County Commissioner Kristin Dozier emphasized that this money is earmarked for economic development, not infrastructure.

“We do other things through infrastructure. This is a unique opportunity that the community has given us.”

However, she added that she could not support the motion.

“The goal of this organization, of OEV, is to diversify our economy,” said Dozier.

County Commissioner Carolyn Cummings supported the funding.

I support the initiative they have brought forth. It goes without saying that FSU is one of the biggest economic drivers here. It supports that we want to keep our intelligent young men and women here,” said Cummings.

City Commissioner Jack Porter was against the funding.

“I am a proud Seminole. I moved to Tallahassee; FSU was my introduction to the city,” said Porter. “I cannot support this funding as much as I would love to; I just think our taxpayer dollars are way too precious to spend on state property.”

City Commissioner Jeremy Matlow agreed with her, bringing up concerns that the penny sales tax for the Blueprint 2020 initiative has just begun being collected.

“Every monetary request that we receive is not just asking us for taxpayer dollars, but asking us to whip out a credit card,” said Matlow.

County Commissioner Brian Welch said he was in favor of this specific funding.

“I’ve been critical of the convention center project because I don’t think people want to come to Tallahassee for conventions. I think people want to come to Tallahassee for football games,” said Welch.

City Commissioner Curtis Richardson supported the funding and echoed Dozier’s comments about the specific use of these dollars.

“None of that can be done out of this $20 million,” said Richardson. “It is for economic development.”

Blueprint Chair and City Commissioner Dianne Williams-Cox was the last to speak and was in favor of the investment.

“I think that it is important that we support Florida State University as well. We need to make sure that jobs, stores, and restaurants are able to employ people,” Williams-Cox said.

The vote passed with the following breakdown:

In favor: Cummings, Jackson, Maddox, Minor, Proctor, Welch, Dailey, Richardson, Williams-Cox.

Against: Dozier, Matlow, Porter

The motion also ended the negotiations for the Florida State Convention Center.

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