Tampa Pro Sports Franchises Donate to Remove Confederate Statue

The Rays, Buccaneers and Lightning are donating to remove a Confederate monument.
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Tampa’s three major pro sports franchises have donated to help remove a Confederate monument from in front of the county courthouse in the city. 

“Recognizing that this monument does not reflect the values of our community, in collaboration with the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, our organizations have dedicated funds to assist in moving the statue from the public space in front of the courthouse,” the Rays, Buccaneers and Lightning said in a joint statement Thursday. “Now more than ever before, we must stand united and committed to diversity and inclusion as we all attempt to heal from the tragedy in Charlottesville.”

The monument, called Memoria In Aeterna, was erected in 1911—the 50th anniversary of the start of the Civil War—by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. It stood outside the original Hillsborough County courthouse and was moved to the new courthouse when construction was completed in 1952. 

The white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., last weekend has hastened the removal of Confederate statues across the country. Hillsborough County Commissioners voted 4–2 on Wednesday to require private fundraising cover the cost of the monument’s relocation from the courthouse to a private cemetery in nearby Brandon. The commissioners declared the public has 30 days to raise the $140,000 necessary to move the statue to its new location. There is also a GoFundMe page to raise funds for the effort

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Former Bucs coach Tony Dungy said he would donate $5,000 to the cause and Bob Gries, the former owner of the city’s arena football team, donated $50,000. Tampa’s mayor also donated $1,000 to the county’s fund. 

The monument’s status has been a contentious subject in Tampa and the county commissioners have held several votes in recent months on whether it should be removed. After one vote, the Rays released a statement saying they supported the removal of the statue, while the Lightning said they would leave that decision up to elected officials.