Something Just Isn’t Right Here
Photo by TBO.com
Recently the St. Petersburg Times /Bay News 9 (local BrightHouse Network) did a telephone poll around Tampa Bay region that was “suppose” to be a realistic sampling of whether local Tampa Bay citizens would possibly agree to a tax increase to pay for a new Tampa Bay Rays stadium. Granted, in this present economy the results would be significantly different than if said construction would begin closer to 2015 than 2011. That got me wondering what was the precise wording and syntax used in this poll, and if it had any time sensitive element within its text?
Another question that puzzled me about the poll was at what time of the day/evening was this telephone survey conducted? Was it between that part of our days where we all collectively relax and unwind from our daily grind, or did the Times/Bay News 9 contact citizens closer to the “prime time” television viewing period when most of us just want to be left alone?
I know I personally did not get a “ringy-dingy” from the Times/Bay News 9 poll, so I have to go under the broad based ideal that maybe the telephone poll message had more than a few bits of wording that might have been a bit vague, or possibly not time stamped as a future proposal. Polling me about a future endeavor would definitely get a different response than in the Tampa Bay region’s present economic state.
I remember getting a telephone survey from the Republican Party during the 2008 election campaigns that had its wordage leaning towards me answering a certain way into the “party’s line” of thought. It is that fine line of verbal manipulation and poking of the “gray area” that can sway any poll into a completely different desired direction that it unveiled intention.
I do remember a bit of my Marketing 101 class where my Professor illustrated how the industry can finely dissect just such a poll to manipulate public opinion and throw a not so clear opinion out into the arena for discussion. As an example, don’t you always wonder what that 5th Dentist recommended if it wasn’t Crest or Dentyne?
Then again, if they polled Rays fans coming out of Tropicana Field after a Rays game the poll might have gotten 2/3rds of the people agreeing to a possible tax proposal. Realistic stadium scenarios have the Rays possibly pushing more towards a dateline of 2013-2015 to begin any sort of construction. This would be after a few years of sifting through the mountains of designs, logistics and local ordinances before a single silver shovel is poked in the Earth by local dignitaries in a Groundbreaking Ceremony.
Could the Times/ Bay News 9 poll have twisted the truth a bit to make the general public come under the assumption that this tax increase proposal was under current advisement, and not be a future item for discussion? Some people say that the “shades of gray area” around an idea or discussion can actually end up getting the proposal accepted or axed. Did the Times/Bay News 9 duo effort folly into the gray matter too much and possibly damaged the black and white truth of the poll?
It is not above any organization to slide step and construct even a poll or story to gain a more cohesive vantage point towards their own agendas then push it out onto the eyes and ears of the masses. The present economic climate doesn’t speak well for even the thought of construction of anything expensive, much less a possible half a billion dollar (or more) sports complex.
If the Rays had thrown out this tax revenue idea during our present economic struggle, I would indeed expect possibly 2/3rds of those polled to give a thumbs down to the idea, even from the fans leaving Tropicana Field. Times are so tight right now I swear I hear George Washington scream ever time I take a single dollar out of my wallet.
This poll also comes on the heels of Hillsborough County voters turning down a penny sales tax increase that would have gone towards a proposed Hillsborough County light rail system. There is a highly vocal citizen sediment right now in this region to oppose anything that would take more out of a families or individuals’ expendable income. Even a single penny to some is a huge increase at a time when that penny multiplied over a weeks time could be the difference between a meal or starving.
The poll seemed to also take a bit of biased cross section of Tampa Bay by only selecting 300 people from Pinellas County (St.Petersburg, Clearwater, Tarpon Springs) and 300 from Hillsborough (Tampa, Brandon, Riverview) but forgetting the Tampa Bay citizens in areas like Sarasota/ Manatee Counties, or those in Pasco/Hernando Counties.
Sure the cross section of Rays fans might be less in those sections of Tampa Bay, but they are a intricate part of the entire Rays puzzle. Two cities should not be able to securely define the opinions of residents of this region. But even with the hint of the “gray areas” and wording possibly contaminating this poll, there were a few great points that emerged from the results that can be illuminating towards a future positive poll result:
77% of all Pinellas County residents polled had attended at least 1 Rays game ( no time frame limitation stated).
62% of all Hillsborough County citizens polled had attended at least 1 Rays game.
37 % of those polled from Hillsborough wanted a Tampa stadium location.
32 % of the same area polled would still attend games at the Rays present site (Tropicana Field).
That last statistic might showcase the fact that the site of the future stadium might not be as important as some local publications might think in either county.
This whole idea, thought process and final Rays stadium decision is a long way away. Ask any Oakland A’s fan and you will find out the turmoil and tribulations of their own recent stadium decisions is not as easy as it was 50-odd years ago. The Rays are not seeking the same debacle that is currently plaguing Hillsborough County government when they built Raymond James Stadium for the NFL Buccaneers without any funds trickling down from the Glazer family. The Rays have been adamant they will push some substantial funding into the kitty for a future stadium.
Even if there was a 100% privately funded stadium proposal boosted up into Tampa Bay tomorrow, it would not be celebrated a much as when the economy and the local government begins to again see some black instead of red ink in their all of their budgets. When disposable income again hit’s the collective local Tamp Bay areas wallets, then such a stadium request might be more welcomed than feared. Hopefully in the future I will get a telephone poll from the Times/Bay News 9 about this situation. I look forward to the call.