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Coffee Talk
Business Observer Friday, Jul. 8, 2005 16 years ago

Coffee Talk (Tampa)

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It's not the Rays; the problem is the stadium, location: In the early 1960s, the pathetic Boston Red Sox couldn't attract more than 4,000 baseball fans for a home game. Why, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays draw twice that to St. Petersburg on a bad night.Banks' books say it all; but FDIC is worrying: Florida community banks saw their return on assets rise to an average of 1.19% during the first quarter of 2005, riding strong loan demand from the state's housing construction boom.Moving across town: Lonnie Homenuk has left his job as executive vice president at Tampa's Chesapeake Atlantic Holdings Inc. after about five years.Motion picture group seeks recourse: Paramount Pictures Corp. is suing John Doe in Tampa federal court over the illegal distribution of 7,500 bootleg copies of "Sahara," a movie that won't be released officially on DVD or VHS until next month.Coast Bank settles suit: Two subsidiaries of Coast Financial Holdings Inc. have settled a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by a former employee, according to a June 28 regulatory filing.
by: Adam Hughes Staff Writer

Coffee Talk (Tampa)

It's not the Rays; the problem is the stadium, location

In the early 1960s, the pathetic Boston Red Sox couldn't attract more than 4,000 baseball fans for a home game. Why, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays draw twice that to St. Petersburg on a bad night.

The dwindling fans of the Rays have been having a lot of bad nights this season at Tropicana Field. But they should keep things in perspective. The world champion Red Sox haven't always played before full houses at Fenway Park.

Coffee Talk recently visited the Hub and had to ask Red Sox President and CEO Larry Lucchino about our hapless Rays.

Lucchino could have blamed Rays managing partner Vince Naimoli and his rampaging-elephant social skills. Or he could have said the Rays' front office is the most clueless in baseball. Instead, Lucchino chose to blame the Trop, the building and the location.

What did Coffee Talk take away from Lucchino? The only salvation for the Rays is getting out of St. Petersburg and into a new stadium - preferably, with a retractable roof.

Sports demographers claim the Rays need to play east of Tampa Bay to tap the Orlando market. A ballpark near the interchange for Interstates 4 and 75 would also be more convenient for fans in Tampa and Sarasota.

Who is going to pay for it? Hillsborough County taxpayers are the usual suspects, having already borrowed to shelter the Buccaneers, the Lightning and the New York Yankees in spring.

But Lucchino is pessimistic. He noted the state is resisting pleas for a new Miami park for the Florida Marlins, who've won the World Series twice since 1997.

Banks' books say it all; but FDIC is worrying

Florida community banks saw their return on assets rise to an average of 1.19% during the first quarter of 2005, riding strong loan demand from the state's housing construction boom.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. reports that the ROA at the community banks increased by 11 basis points over the first quarter of last year.

Construction and development lending was up by 62% from a year ago. That increased the C&D exposure of the banks to 8.4% of assets, up from 6.3% in 2004's first quarter.

Like the Federal Reserve, the FDIC sees as much to lament as to celebrate about Florida's economic picture.

The homebuilding industry helped Sarasota increase employment by 5.3%, far better than overall national job growth.

But the FDIC also dislikes the imbalances between housing supply and what the bank insurer views as largely speculator-driven demand. In Miami, there are 60,000 condominium units in various stages of development. The city only permitted 7,000 condo units over the past decade.

Moving across town

Lonnie Homenuk has left his job as executive vice president at Tampa's Chesapeake Atlantic Holdings Inc. after about five years.

Chesapeake Atlantic is the Greg Hughes company that once owned the Gold Bank Plaza and 601 Ashley office buildings in downtown Tampa.

Duncan Cos. Inc. has hired him as senior vice president. That's the Tampa real estate company that Pinellas County Commissioner Ronnie Duncan founded. Humenuk will help Duncan with day-to-day operations.

Prior to Chesapeake, Homenuk worked as general manager in the Tampa office of Jones Lang LaSalle.

Motion picture group seeks recourse

Paramount Pictures Corp. is suing John Doe in Tampa federal court over the illegal distribution of 7,500 bootleg copies of "Sahara," a movie that won't be released officially on DVD or VHS until next month.

The motion picture group's New York attorney, Alexandra DeNeve of Loeb & Loeb LLP, with the assistance of Tampa lawyer Joshua E. Burnett of Gardner Wilkes Shaheen, has received U.S. District Judge Richard Lazzara's permission to begin discovery to identify the John Doe and stop the distribution through eDonkey on the Internet.

Paramount claims whoever placed the movie on the site has violated copyright infringement law.

Coast Bank settles suit

Two subsidiaries of Coast Financial Holdings Inc. have settled a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by a former employee, according to a June 28 regulatory filing.

Gillian S. Busard, who formerly worked for the now-defunct Coast Financial Partners Inc., will receive $75,000 in exchange for dropping her claims of employment discrimination, breach of contract and unfair and deceptive trade practices, the Bradenton banking company says.

The 49-year-old Longboat Key resident had accused a one-time supervisor of the harassment. Coast Financial Partners eventually fired her, and she sued in Manatee County circuit court two years ago.

Busard will get $5,000 in back wages and another $45,000 in compensatory damages for what the company termed, "mental distress purportedly suffered." Her Bradenton attorneys at Ozark Perron & Nelson PA will get $25,000 as their fee.

Coast Financial Holdings is the parent of Coast Bank of Florida, which moved into Pinellas County this year. The holding company will expense $185,000 for the quarter that ended June 30 to cover the cost of defending and settling the lawsuit.

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