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Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn will discuss raising the city’s property tax rate for the first time in 29 years when he presents his proposed 2018 budget to the City Council on Thursday. LOREN ELLIOTT | Times (2016)
TAMPA — The last time Tampa raised its property tax rate, the president was George H.W. Bush (the dad) and gasoline cost 97 cents a gallon.
Since then, not raising the tax rate has been an article of faith at City Hall.
But that could change this year.
On Thursday, Mayor Bob Buckhorn will present a proposed 2018 budget to the City Council that could total $900 million or more. He also will ask the council to consider raising the city’s property tax rate for the first time since 1989.
"We’re going to have the discussion," he said. "The decision that council will be asked to make is, after 29 years, do we look at a millage increase? … It will ultimately be up to the council."
Property tax bills are based on two factors.
The first is the tax rate — known as millage — levied by local governments, School Boards and other agencies such as the port, children’s board and water management districts. In Tampa, the tax rate is 5.7326 mills — or about $5.73 in city property taxes for every $1,000 of assessed, non-exempt property value.
That means the owner of a homesteaded house assessed at $154,699 pays an estimated $600 a year in city taxes.
The second factor is the assessed value of the property being taxed. As the value of property rises in value, it generates more tax revenue for local governments, even if the millage rate does not change, too. (Thanks to Florida’s Save Our Homes limit, the growth of homeowners’ assessments is capped at 3 percent. The growth in assessments for rental property, commercial property, vacant land and new construction is not subject to the Save Our Homes cap.) As a result, cities and counties with growing taxable values have effectively raised property taxes in recent years even if they kept the same millage rates.
Buckhorn said he wouldn’t talk about how much the property tax rate could rise until he presents his proposed budget to the City Council at 9 a.m. Thursday.
"Once we lay out the numbers for them, I think the path will be pretty clear," he said.
Florida Department of Revenue statistics show that Tampa is one of three Florida cities — along with Hialeah and Fort Lauderdale — with populations over 100,000 that have not raised their millage rates since 2008. Orlando’s rate went up 1 mill in 2014. St. Petersburg raised its rate in 2012 and has since lowered it a bit. Clearwater passed an increase in 2009.
So why have this discussion now?
It’s not so much what’s happening this year. To the contrary, taxable property values in Tampa have grown a healthy 9.3 percent. That was a pleasant surprise for city officials who had expected 8 percent growth.
Instead, Buckhorn said, it’s what’s coming in the future: some long-deferred debt payments, the likelihood that voters next year will expand the homestead exemption, declining revenues from sources other than property taxes and the possibility of an economic downturn.
"The difficulty in this budget is thinking two, three, four, five years down the road," Buckhorn said. "What I’m trying to do is not build a budget for this year but prepare for the out years, even though I won’t be the mayor. … If the tough decisions have to be made, I’d rather it be me than putting the burden on the next mayor."
Big bills coming due
In 1996, then-Mayor Dick Greco needed to get the Police Department into a new headquarters, build a couple of police district substations, buy new fire engines and build a fire and police communications center.
But City Hall wasn’t flush with cash and was on the hook to help pay for the Florida Aquarium and a downtown hockey arena. Raising property taxes was a non-starter.
So Greco asked the council to approve borrowing about $24 million, with repayment to be delayed 20 years. No one liked the idea, but the council approved it 5-to-2. Then-council member Bob Buckhorn voted yes, though not before asking whether the city could somehow tap the fire and police pension fund for help. (No.)
Now, Buckhorn acknowledges, "the chickens have come home to roost."
The city will pay $6 million on that 1996 debt this year, and $13.8 million a year for several years after that.
On top of that, the city has to repay a 1997 federal loan of $6 million borrowed to help develop the Centro Ybor shopping and movie complex.
While property values (and revenues) are rising, they’re still well below their pre-recession peak of $166.2 million.
This year, property taxes — the city’s biggest single source of revenue — are projected to bring in $155 million, which is less than the cost of running the Police Department alone.
Meanwhile, other revenues have fallen or could drop:
• In 2009, the city got $29.9 million from a communications services tax on land-line telephones. This year, with cell-phone users cutting the cord, that tax will bring in $18.1 million.
• With lower interest rates, the city earns less on money it holds before it has to be spent: Interest earnings were $23.6 million in 2008. They’re $2.8 million this year.
• President Donald Trump’s proposed budget threatens to eliminate several federal programs, including the transportation grants the city used to finish the Riverwalk, Community Development Block Grants, which can be used for a variety of local efforts and Choice Neighborhood grants, which provided $30 million for the Encore Tampa redevelopment project near downtown.
• The Legislature has scheduled a 2018 referendum on expanding the homestead exemption. Tampa officials assume it will pass, and estimate that it will reduce property tax revenues by $6 million. Buckhorn said other bills proposed in the Legislature this year could be back again next year, and if passed, could restrict the city’s ability to borrow money, raise the millage or maintain reserves.
"We’re absolutely more reliant on property tax revenues, because many of those other sources are drying up," Buckhorn said.
The business cycle
While construction and real estate are booming now, that could change.
"At some point, you’ve got to recognize that if you’re continue to invest in projects (like) parks and rec, you’ve got to increase revenue," Buckhorn said. "You can’t just rely on the increase in property values if you’re going to build a long-term plan, because that’s going to fluctuate. We were lucky this year that we had 9.3 (percent growth). Next year that could drop to 5 or 6 or 7 (percent)."
Going into Thursday’s meeting, Buckhorn has alerted council members what’s coming, though he hasn’t shared details on the how much of a millage rate increase he could propose.
Given the seriousness of the idea, it’s good that Buckhorn is putting it out there this year, said Harry Cohen, who chairs the council’s finance committee. If it were his own family’s finances, he said, he would want to start thinking about the possibilities well in advance.
"This is a very, very serious thing to talk about doing," Cohen said. "The details will ultimately guide the discussion. The ultimate question is, are the investments that are being proposed worth making?"
Contact Richard Danielson at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3403. Follow @Danielson_Times
Edgar Yoel Barcenas #8 of Panama controls the ball in front of Jorge Villafana #2 of USA during the first half of a CONCACAF Gold Cup Soccer match at Nissan Stadium on July 8, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
Tampa has hosted CONCACAF Gold Cup soccer games before, most recently in 2011.
But this year Tampa Bay has a bigger stake in how they come off.
With the Rowdies hoping to secure an MLS expansion spot, tonight’s Gold Cup doubleheader at Raymond James Stadium may play a role in convincing league executives that the region has the appetite necessary for an MLS team.
Commissioner Don Garber visited expansion candidate Nashville last week as part of the league’s review of that city’s bid.
While there, he watched a doubleheader of Gold Cup openers, including the United States’ 1-1 draw with Panama. Garber is not in Tampa Bay for tonight’s games — Panama vs. Nicaragua and the United States vs. Martinique — but people who are "heavily involved" with MLS will be at the games, MLS spokesman Dan Courtemanche said. MLS’s marketing arm manages the Gold Cup, which is played every two years and features national teams in North America, Central America and the Caribbean.
"Though there’s not an official visit, the Tampa-St. Petersburg area has a chance to make an impression," Courtemanche said. "We’re hoping to arrange a visit to the Tampa-St. Petersburg area within the coming months."
EXPANSION LIMBO: Will MLS take another chance on Tampa Bay?
Twelve cities are competing for four available MLS expansion spots as the league plans to expand from 22 teams to 28. Another Los Angeles team already is scheduled to begin play next year. A team planned for Miami is working on stadium funding. MLS plans to begin filling the final four spots with two teams announced in December. Those teams would begin play in 2020.
Five of the 12 markets contending for the final four spots will host at least one Gold Cup game, with Phoenix, San Antonio and Sacramento joining Tampa and Nashville.
Three key factors go into reviewing an expansion bid, Courtemanche.
"The first is a local ownership group, which exists for the Tampa Bay bid with Bill Edwards," he said. "The second is a comprehensive stadium plan, and the third is strong fan support. That support is attractive to the league and attractive to partners. We want a city that’ll get behind its team and continue to help this league grow.
"The Gold Cup serves as an example of a prominent soccer event in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area that can act as a showcase for the level of support in the area. Ideally we want to see not just good attendance but also a strong atmosphere that gets people excited."
In Nashville, the announced attendance for the United States-Panama game at Nissan Stadium, home of the NFL’s Titans, was 47,622, a record for the largest crowd to watch a soccer game in Tennessee.
"Good attendance figures for an event like this obviously tell us something about fan support in the area, so it definitely can play a part," Courtemanche said.
CONCACAF Gold Cup
At Raymond James Stadium
Panama vs. Nicaragua, 6:30; United States vs. Martinique, 9 p.m.
Tickets: ticketmaster.com; Raymond James Stadium box office 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday
MIAMI—A Florida judge ruled Monday that lawmakers’ changes to the state’s controversial “stand your ground” self-defense law violate the state’s constitution. The decision dealt a blow to gun-rights supporters who pressed for the revisions and heartened critics who said the changes made it more difficult to convict people of violent crimes.
In the Florida legislative session earlier this year, the Republican-led House and Senate updated the 2005 “stand your ground” law, one of the earliest in the U.S. to expand the…
Baltimore Orioles’ Joey Rickard (23) is congratulated by manager Buck Showalter and Jonathan Schoop (6) after a hit. File photo by David Tulis/UPI
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Baltimore Orioles haven’t been a late come-from-behind team much this season, but they enjoyed that role Sunday, rallying in the ninth inning for an 8-5 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.
"We just want to play some crisp baseball games," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said after winning his second straight game and getting 4 2/3 innings of scoreless relief from his bullpen while Tampa Bay’s relievers struggled.
Baltimore scored three runs in the ninth against Rays closer Alex Colome (1-3), who struggled for the second straight outing.
Joey Rickard put Baltimore ahead with an RBI ground-rule double, and after an intentional walk to load the bases, Colome hit Jonathan Schoop to bring in a second run. Rickard scored on a sacrifice fly by Adam Jones.
The Rays (40-38) had been 35-3 this season when leading after seven innings and the Orioles (37-38) had been 3-34 when trailing after seven.
"Not the way we wanted to finish off a homestand here," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "At the end of the day, their lineup, especially the bottom of the lineup, caused a lot of damage."
Baltimore right-hander Brad Brach (2-1) picked up the win in relief, pitching the final two innings, includng a 1-2-3 ninth. The Rays hadn’t lost a home series since they dropped three of four to the Royals in early May.
The bullpen struggles started an inning earlier as Rays reliever Chase Whitley, trying to hold a one-run lead in the eighth, gave up a solo home run to Schoop, his 15th homer of the season to tie the score at 5.
Colome, who had given up four earned runs in his last 19 appearances entering the week, has now allowed five in his last two outings, raising his ERA to 3.15.
"If you miss one pitch, they can take it," Colome said. "If I have to pitch tomorrow, I’d do the same thing. I don’t have to change anything."
In the fifth inning, the Rays got to Baltimore starter Chris Tillman, who came in with an 8.39 ERA, as Mallex Smith and Corey Dickerson singled, setting up a three-run homer by Evan Longoria to give the Rays a 5-3 lead.
Longoria’s 12th home run of the season went to left field and shifted momentum back to the home team, which had won seven straight rubber games and had split the first two games of the series with Baltimore.
"They’re constantly good," Tillman said of his bullpen after the game. "They’re always good. They’re solid if you give them a chance. When you set them up to pitch where they need to be pitching, they’re pretty darn good."
Baltimore got within a run on Trey Mancini’s solo home run in the sixth off Rays starter Jake Odorizzi — his 11th straight appearance giving up a home run, the longest such streak by a Rays pitcher since James Shields served one up in 10 consecutive games in 2006 and matching the franchise mark set by Wilson Alvarez (11 in 1998).
The Orioles had jumped ahead with a two-run rally in the second inning — Caleb Joseph singled, Craig Gentry doubled, and both scored on a double by Paul Janish off Odorizzi.
The Rays’ first two runs were brought in by second baseman Taylor Featherston, who had an RBI single in the second and a sacrifice fly in the fourth, cutting the Orioles’ lead to 3-2 after Joseph added a solo home run.
NOTES: The Rays are making a change to their starting rotation, with LHP Blake Snell rejoining the group Wednesday after a solid stint in the minors. RHP Erasmo Ramirez will move back to the bullpen to make room, and Tampa Bay will need to make a roster move before Wednesday to open a 25-man spot for Snell. … Baltimore will have RHP Kevin Gausman on the mound Tuesday as the Orioles open a three-game series at Toronto. Tampa Bay will start RHP Alex Cobb on Tuesday to open a three-game set at Pittsburgh. … An official scoring change was made to Friday’s game. DH Mark Trumbo’s fourth-inning single has been changed to an error on Rays SS Tim Beckham. That makes an ensuing run unearned, so RHP Chris Archer’s season ERA drops from 3.97 to 3.88.
When it comes to summertime in Florida, everyone wants to try to beat the heat. It only makes sense. Due to the fact that Florida is surrounded on three sides by ocean, and the fact that much of the southern tip of Florida is swamp land, things can get incredibly humid. When you add in the fact that Florida is considered to be a tropical climate, things can get incredibly uncomfortable!
The first step to beating the Florida heat is to understand that you can never beat the Florida heat. It’s overbearing, with the humidity surrounding and suffocating you at all times. The best you can do is find a way to hide from the heat for a short period of time. Beating it is simply not a thing that’s going to happen unless you can fill a tub with ice that never melts and bury yourself in it.
Given you can’t beat the heat, there are some ways you can fight it. First and foremost, look for public places you can hang out that have air conditioning. The movie theater is a great example, as are many different shopping malls. If you can find a cafe to sit and read, that works even better!
There are people who suggest putting a block of ice behind a fan. This mimics an evaporative cooler, which blows cold air made by the evaporation of water. Unfortunately, this sort of thing doesn’t work in Florida. The humidity means that the air will be far too full of hot moisture to become cold, and all you’ll do is circulate the hot air around.
The best, and only, way to fight the heat in Florida is to hide from it. Make sure to wear plenty of sunscreen, and also drink lots of water. Hopefully, you can manage to survive the hot Florida summer!
A statue titled
TAMPA — In the streets along Court House Square they sang "Dixie" and cheered as the veil was finally removed from the white marble obelisk. Necks craned from balconies along Franklin Street as people strained to catch a glimpse.
It was Feb. 8, 1911 and an estimated 5,000 people had flooded downtown Tampa, still a small port city, for the dedication of a Confederate monument.
According to news accounts from the day, various dignitaries paid tribute to the Confederate soldiers who had marched to defend the old south then returned to build the new south from its ashes. They praised the generals who led them and the women who supported the cause from home.
But there were other sentiments expressed that day.
In remarks at the monument’s dedication — a monument that its modern supporters insist doesn’t symbolize the suppression of black Americans — the keynote speaker, state attorney Herbert S. Phillips, had this to say:
"The South stands ready to welcome all good citizens who seek to make their homes within her borders. But the South detests and despises all, it matters not from whence they came, who, in any manner, encourages social equality with an ignorant and inferior race."
• • •
The eternal conflict of Confederate symbols is that one man’s nod to heritage is another man’s reminder of oppression.
That conflict has come to Hillsborough County.
Commissioner Les Miller has called for the removal of the 106-year-old Confederate monument that now stands outside the old county courthouse in downtown Tampa, an administrative building that holds traffic court and conducts marriages.
Miller, the descendent of slaves, came of age when schools were still segregated in Tampa. As a University of South Florida student, he remembers a helplessness come over him as he passed the statue on the way to the downtown law library.
"When I became a county commissioner one of the things I said to myself was, ‘I’m going to one day get that removed,’ " Miller said. "The timing had to be right."
The moment for Miller arrived last month. Four Confederate memorials had just come down in New Orleans in parts of the city not far from where thousands of men and women were bought and sold into bondage. New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu’s speech explaining why went viral and became a national address on race relations.
But opposition to Miller’s proposal was swift.
A mailer circulated comparing Miller, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, to the Islamic State. Dozens of men and women filled the seats of a recent county commission meeting holding signs saying "Americans build monuments/We don’t remove them."
"If this monument is removed, I, as a citizen of this county, will organize other like-minded citizens to stand in its place as well as over offices of this council," warned one of those residents, Donny McCurry of Riverview.
A debate on the future of the monument is expected at Wednesday’s commission meeting. Commissioner Stacy White said he plans to propose a blanket ban on the removal of any of Hillsborough’s war memorials.
"This is a part of history," White said.
• • •
"Handsome," the Tampa Morning Tribune remarked about the monument the day after its unveiling. And unique compared to others around Florida.
To the north faces a Confederate soldier; upright, armed, right foot forward heading toward battle. To the south, the soldier walks home-bound; humbled, his clothes tattered and gun falling to his side. A tower that points to the heavens stands between the two figures.
It’s installment, the Tribune wrote, was "made possible through the zealous efforts of the local chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy."
"Zealous” may actually be an understatement.
In the years after the Civil War, the United Daughters of the Confederacy and other southern groups undertook extensive efforts to influence the post-war narrative and remake in defeat the image of the south.
Committees reviewed school text books to ensure deference to the Southern point-of-view, according to minutes from Daughters of the Confederacy conventions in the early 1900s. Campaigns persuaded governments to refer to the Civil War as the "War Between the States" and downplay slavery’s role in the South’s secession.
Known as the "Lost Cause" narrative, it sought to project a picturesque antebellum south, said William Lees, executive director of the Florida Public Archaeology Network at the University of West Florida in Pensacola.
"That narrative is embedded in insidious ways throughout the South," said Lees, who catalogued Florida’s Civil War memorials for his book, Recalling Deeds Immortal, Florida Monuments to the Civil War. "It may have started for innocent reasons but it became a very effective campaign and it included monuments."
The United Daughters of the Confederacy organized dozens of empathetic monuments throughout the south, including Florida, from the late 1880s through the First World War. They can be found in public spaces in Bradenton, Brooksville and Lakeland.
The local chapter of the United Daughters raised $3,000 in 1910 to build the monument in Tampa. Hillsborough County donated the land on Franklin and Lafayette streets.
It’s unveiling, marking the 50th anniversary of the South’s secession from the Union, was such an event that kids were given the day off school. It was Tampa’s first monument.
Dedication speeches praised the reunited country. But the prevailing lost cause narrative reverberated too, said Rodney Kite-Powell, curator at the Tampa Bay History Center, "recasting not just the cause of the war, but the end of the war, making it where there is no loser."
Tampa Mayor D.B. McKay, for example, said the statue "will stand forever as a testimonial of our undying love for the cause that we of the South believe was right, and of our pride in the splendid achievements of the hosts who through those terrible years made records on land and on sea unparalleled in the history of the world."
• • •
Over the past two decades, Hillsborough has gradually distanced itself from Confederate symbols.
In 1997, county commissioners removed the Confederate flag from the Hillsborough seal. In a compromise, they voted to hang a version of the flag in the county center.
Then commissioners voted in 2015 to remove that flag. Meanwhile, the county stopped honoring Southern Heritage Month, a decision in 2007 that prompted one angry citizen to plant a massive Confederate Flag near Interstates 4 and 275.
More recently, the Hillsborough County School Board started a review of how to change the name of Robert E. Lee Elementary School in east Tampa.
But the Confederate monument downtown had avoided similar scrutiny. Local historians and long-time black leaders could not remember debates about it. In fact, the same commissioners who removed the flag from the county seal unanimously approved a $4,000 restoration of the monument.
Tom Scott, who served on the county commission and Tampa city council, often as the only black member, said the political climate is different now. But he added that removing the monument won’t solve the racial disparity in the county.
"It’s understandable to not want those kinds of symbols that portray racism," Scott said. "But after removing the statue, we still have a problem if we’re not addressing the systemic issues."
Miller said the debate is overdue.
"That monument and those flags stood for people that wanted to keep a segment of the country in bondage," Miller said. "You go into a court house for justice, and here stands a monument erected to those who didn’t even look at you as a human being."
Advocates of Southern heritage said removing these symbols is a disservice to the dozens of local men who fought in the Civil War.
"If they believe any symbol of slavery should be eliminated because it’s offensive there’s a long list of things that need to go," Lunelle McCallister, chair of monuments for the Florida division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. "Are we going to rename McKay Bay? When does it end?"
• • •
In 1911, Tampa was opening itself to the north — both to its visitors and its commerce — and touting its place in the nation’s industrialization. The city celebrated the rolling of its one billionth cigar, according to a Tribune report, and the newspaper was habitually filled with pronouncements of new business in the port.
But Tampa held closely to its roots as the third southern state to secede.
The city observed Lee’s birthday and school children named trees after him. Much of the county’s black population lived in the Scrub, an area founded by free slaves, or segregated communities with few amenities and poor conditions. The first hospital to treat black residents had just opened three years earlier.
"That tells you a lot of what you need to know about the black conditions in Tampa," said Fred Hearns, a retired director of community affairs for Tampa who now provides black history tours.
Against this backdrop, Herbert Phillips, the state’s attorney for the Sixth Judicial Circuit, delivered his keynote address to dedicate the Confederate monument.
"The south declares that a president who appoints a negro to an office within her borders engenders sectional bitterness," he said, "encourages lynchings, injures the negro, is an enemy of good government and a traitor to the Anglo-Saxon race."
Asked if Phillips’ words changed his view of the monument, County Commissioner White said he hadn’t heard them before and would have to study it before commenting. But he added: "I don’t think that those types of sentiments would entirely encompass the dedication of the monument."
David McCallister, commander of the local chapter of the Sons of the Confederacy and husband to Lunelle, was more effusive.
"(Abraham) Lincoln had exactly the same thoughts," he said. "What do they think about Lincoln on the penny?"
• • •
The monument, like the south-facing soldier, is tattered these days. There are cracks throughout the base and chips in the marble men. The soldiers have been missing most of their guns for decades.
On his tour routes, Hearns often drives by the statue.
He explains for tourists the tower and the two soldiers, what they symbolize, the engravings that mark the start and end of the Civil War, the carving of the rebel flag that adorns the statue’s west side.
"They’re pretty silent when I give the history of that statue," he said. "Every time I go by a little chill goes through me.
"I know what it meant."
Follow Steve Contorno at email@example.com. Follow @scontorno.
BRADENTON, FL — Ready to prepare for summer’s heat by moving into a home that boasts a backyard pool and a selling price of $250,000 or less? There are some beautiful options on the Tampa Bay area market that fit the bill.
While everyone has their own idea of the “perfect” house, here are five in the $250,000 or less range that caught our eye
407 Bow Lane
$230,000 asking price3 bedrooms2 bathrooms1,675 square feet
2924 Noble Ave.
$192,000 asking price4 bedrooms2 baths1,619 square feet
1834 Elaine Drive
$219,900 asking price3 bedrooms2 bathrooms1,208 square feet
15924 Marshfield Drive
$244,900 asking price3 bedrooms2 bathrooms1,620 square feet
Land O’ Lakes
19347 Otters Wick Way
$229,800 asking price3 bedrooms2 bathrooms1,589 square feet
Photos and information via realtor.com.
TAMPA, Fla. — FOX Sports Sun, the regional television home of the Tampa Bay Lightning, announced plans to televise Thursday’s scheduled press conference where Lightning and National Hockey League officials will discuss and detail 2018 NHL® All-Star Weekend, planned for AMALIE Arena on January 27-28. Statewide television coverage will begin Thursday, June 1 at 2 p.m. on FOX Sports Sun, in addition to streaming live on FOX Sports GO.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, City of Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan, Tampa Bay Sports Commission Executive Director Rob Higgins and Tampa Bay Lightning Chairman and Governor Jeff Vinik are all scheduled to speak at the press conference. The 2018 NHL® All-Star Game will mark the second time Tampa will host the event. The Lightning and Tampa previously hosted the NHL All-Star Game in 1999, successfully welcoming thousands of NHL fans, executives and personalities to the city.
About FOX Sports Florida / FOX SPORTS SUN
FOX Sports Florida & FOX Sports Sun are the regional television homes of the Orlando Magic, Tampa Bay Rays, Miami Heat, Miami Marlins, Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers. The regional sports networks have been fixtures in the homes of sports fans throughout the Sunshine State for over 20 years. Today, the networks combine to produce more than 700 live sporting events and over 300 studio based and original programs year round. FOX Sports Florida and FOX Sports Sun are committed to making a positive impact in the communities we serve by engaging our audiences and providing award winning TV and web coverage of Florida’s hometown sports teams. For more information, channel listings and how you can get involved with FOX Sports Florida / FOX Sports Sun, visit www.foxsportsflorida.com.
Kevin Cash: We’ve asked a lot of our guys, and they’ve come through
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Tight end O.J. Howard has signed his rookie contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Howard, who was the 19th overall pick in last month’s NFL draft, signed a four-year deal on Monday that includes a team option for a fifth season. He is the first of Tampa Bay’s six draft picks to sign.
Howard, who is 6-foot-6 and 251 pounds, was a third-team Associated Press All-America selection last season. He started 12 of Alabama’s 14 games last season and had 45 receptions for 595 yards and three touchdowns.
The drafting of Howard and signing DeSean Jackson in free agency should give Jameis Winston more options in Tampa Bay’s passing game.
The Buccaneers also announced that defensive end Jacquies Smith has signed his restricted free agent tender.
FAMU head coach Alex Wood and TSU Coach Rod Reed
TAMPA, Florida – Florida A&M University (FAMU), Tennessee State University (TSU) and the Tampa Bay Sports Commission gathered to formally announce the FAMU Tampa Football Classic which will be held on Saturday, September 16 at 6 p.m. at Raymond James Stadium. The Historically Black College and University (HBCU) classic football game will be a true clash of the titans, featuring two of college football’s storied programs.
"We are extremely excited to return to the Bay Area with the Tampa Classic at Raymond James Stadium and look to continue our long-standing tradition of successful classic games through collaboration with our partners in the City of Tampa,” said FAMU Athletic Director, Milton Overton. “Our matchup against Tennessee State will prove to be an exciting contest reminiscent of legendary matchups between coaches Jake Gaither and John Merritt.”
The two teams have faced off numerous times since 1944, with the Tigers holding a narrow 30-24 edge over the Rattlers. Both programs rank in the NCAA Division I FCS Top Ten in all-time winning percentage, and the two schools have combined to win 22 Black College National Championships (FAMU 12, TSU 10). It’s a match-up that shouldn’t be missed.
Before the teams collide on the field, there will be an exciting series of events designed to welcome fans and engage the community.
On Friday, September 15, fans can join community partners, local business leaders and university officials for the FAMU Kickoff Luncheon. This energizing afternoon will feature a number of special guest speakers and provide attendees with a preview of the game and weekend events.
The FAMU Battle of the Bandswill feature top marching bands performing energetic and dynamic routines for fans. This incredible event will also feature performances by our participating schools’ two elite bands, the FAMU “Marching 100” and the TSU “Aristocrat of Bands.”
Finally, the celebration continues on Saturday, September 16 at the FAMU FanFestwhere fans of both teams are invited to enjoy food, beverage and live entertainment all leading into kick-off of this exciting matchup.
“There is no doubt that the FAMU Tampa Football Classic will offer an exciting match-up on the field, but we are equally excited by this series of incredible fan events that will be featured throughout the weekend,” said Rob Higgins, executive director of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission. “We are thrilled to be welcoming FAMU and TSU fans to our community and to showcase all that Tampa Bay has to offer.”
Tickets for the FAMU Tampa Football Classic start at $38. Select seat locations are available now on Ticketmaster.com. All stadium seating locations will go on sale to the general public beginning on June 1 at 10 a.m. Fans can purchase premium seating before June 1 by signing up to become a FAMU Investing In Champions member. For more information on how to join, visit FAMUBuildingChampions.com. Additional details for each of the ancillary events will be released in the coming weeks. To learn more visit TampaFootballClassic.com and follow @SportsTampaBay on Twitter.
FLORIDA A&M UNIVERSITY SPORTS INFORMATION