Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Before You Jump on the Rays-to-Tampa Bandwagon...

Before you jump on the Rays-to-Tampa bandwagon, remember these things:

1) St. Pete has a lease with the team and neither Tampa nor Hillsborough County appear ready to go to court to break it. Pinellas County remains the most likely place for a new park.

2) Having a large chunk of land in Downtown Tampa isn't enough. You need a HUGE chunk of land. 20 acres for a stadium, 30-50 acres for parking. Having a stadium within driving distance from the center of population does the Rays no good if there's nowhere to park 10,000 cars.

3) Tampa is not Boston. Rail is not a substitute for parking.

4) Developers can give away the land for a stadium, but you still need a huge chunk of change to build the building. Developers won't offer to pay for that...and all of Hillsborough County's funds appear to be committed elsewhere.

5) The ABC Coalition asked Hillsborough County to get involved in saving the team. Commissioner Hagan's request for a meeting shouldn't come as a huge should come as a huge relief.


  1. 1. From what I understand, it is not a lease. The Rays actually have a "use agreement" contract. I have talked to a few contract lawyers, and some say that is easier to break, some think it could actually be tougher to break. The key may be whether the Rays want to argue that the Trop is no longer suitable and actually hurts revenues. If they do that, the contract may be voidable. The problem with that, is if it ever goes to court, the Rays would have to open their book for inspection, and they DO NOT want that.

    2. 20 acres is ideal, yes, but you can fit it on to a smaller footprint. PNC Park is small but many people think it is the best park in baseball right now. I believe its footprint is only 16 acres.

    3. Correct. If rail is implemented, it should only be used to supplement and should not be used as a primary means of getting to the park.

    4. The Rays were willing to pony up a lot of their own money for the original plans in St. Pete. I would think they would go even higher if the stadium was in a better location. It would be a dangerous precedent, but if the Rays are just let's say $100m short, I would not be surprised if MLB gets involved.

  2. 1) You're right on the technical name for the use agreement, but it functions as a lease. While developers may be willing to go to court for a MLB team, I highly highly highly doubt the City of Tampa or Hillsborough County would.

    2/3) Sure, they could cram a park into 16 acres, but you still need substantially more to fit 10,000 parking spots. And space the build a park is a very minor hurdle compared to the financing.

    4) And sure, I could see the Rays pay $100M to build a new park. But the waterfront stadium was about half the cost of what a stadium anywhere else will cost. This whole thing comes down to what municipalities have the means to finance the bulk of a stadium, and that answer every time is St. Pete/Pinellas.

  3. They are the Tampa Bay Rays, not the St. Petersburg Rays. I would be a season ticket holder if I didnt have to drive and hour and a half in rush hour traffic to go to 7pm games, but instead I go to maybe 7 or a 8 games a year due to the drive. If the Rays had a stadium in Tampa, where they belong, I know a TON of people who would regularly go to games when now they just dont want to drive to St. Pete. it only takes 15 minutes to get to Downtown Tampa from Brandon, yet 45 to an hour to get to the trop from there. The Rays have the smallest portion of fans who live within a 30 minute radius than any other MLB team. Its killing the team and I would die if they got moved somewhere else. If we ever want our Rays to be taken seriously then we need to move them to their rightful home..Tampa

  4. Daniel, nobody argues Tampa would be a more convenient location for the stadium. But St. Pete spent the dough to land the team and they deserve them for 30 yrs.

    And since they are the TAMPA BAY Rays, fans on both sides of the bay need to support them regardless of where the stadium is. If they don't, the team won't succeed in this market.

    Honestly, the most damaging thing to the Rays is the psychological hurdle of the Howard-Frankland Bridge. I can get to The Trop in 30 minutes from my home in Tampa, but I can't tell you how many people in my neighborhood say they refuse to cross the bridge for baseball.

    As Rays VP Michael Kalt once pointed out, people in Tampa Bay are spoiled. In Boston or New York, fans drive over an hour to weeknight games and think nothing of it.