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Will EB-5 visas help finance new home for Tampa Bay Rays?

Financing for professional sports facilities can involve complicated issues. Tampa-St. Petersburg leaders are reportedly looking at U.S. immigration law as a potential source of revenues for a new stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays. The actual source of revenues would be foreign investors, but the investments would flow through the EB-5 investor's visa program authorized under immigration law under an idea that chamber of commerce leaders have been studying.

A similar idea was considered in New York, a $228 million was reportedly generated to create a retail, housing and basketball arena for the NBA's Nets basketball team. The EB-5 visa program has recently seen renewed interest since the time that the nationwide financial meltdown tightened up credit.

The investment visa program allows immigrants to invest in a development that creates jobs in the United States. If the development proves successful under the terms of U.S. immigration law, the EB-5 program provides a pathway for immigrant investors to permanent residency in the United States.

For businesses, potential businesses or developments that can create jobs in the United States, the EB-5 visa program has seen increased awareness as a source of funding. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services says that 776 immigrants looked to invest in a U.S. enterprise under the investment visa program in 2007. Since the economic crunch hot this country, USCIS says that interest in the EB-5 program has surged, with 3,805 immigrants seeking to invest in EB-5 developments.

Leaders in Tampa-St. Pete are studying the issue as a potential source of funding to replace Tropicana Field. The Nets arena, as discussed, received investment visa revenues, and the Mayor of Oakland has considered turning to immigration law as a source of funding for a new stadium to house the Oakland A's. The West Coast effort, however crumbled when other funding, unrelated to the EB-5 program, fell apart.

Source: Tampa Tribune, "Immigration program might help fund Rays stadium," Michael Sasso, April 9, 2012

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