The Tampa Bay Rays would like to replace their current stadium, Tropicana Field, with a new stadium, yet they are lacking the funds to pay for it. However the answer to their dilemma could come from a surprising source: an immigration program called EB-5.
According to Chuck Sykes, co-chairman of the Tampa chamber group, along with 13 other business leaders researching the possibility of a new stadium, the federal immigration program might be the ticket they need to pay for a half billion dollar stadium.
The program EB-5, provides foreigners the opportunity to invest at least $500,000 towards the creation of at least ten jobs in the United States. Once the jobs are created, the foreigners earn a green card for themselves and their families. The money can increase when potential immigrants combine their money into an investment fund. According to Robert Moreyra, co-founder of Forge Capital Partners, a Tampa investment company, “Theoretically, their combined money could be put toward a real estate development including a Rays ballpark, retail space and housing.”
The program is open to people around the world, however the majority of participants are Chinese. Last year, 935 people from China won approval for the program. With a booming economy in China, the number of millionaires has increased and therefore many have money to invest. Gar Liipincott, solicits foreign investors for his Tampa based investment fund believes, “Chinese people hoping to move to America might welcome the chance to invest in a Rays stadium.”
Yet, some critics remain skeptical of the program and possible new stadium. According to a recent Bloomberg News report, some investors sometimes will pump money into development projects hoping to get a green card a couple of years later. Some projects fail and therefore do not create the planned jobs.
In New York, however, EB-5 is being used to help fund a $4.9 billion retail, housing and arena complex called Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn where the New Jersey Nets will eventually play as the Brooklyn Nets. While in Oakland, California the mayor has discussed using EB-5 funds to fund a new Oakland Athletics stadium.
According to Lippincott, “We have a very open dialogue with our Chinese marketing arm, and that (a stadium) appears to be very viable.”