Friday, January 29, 2010

St. Pete Ex-Communicates ABC Coalition

I apologize for not being more on-top of this story - been busy with a few investigations. But it's an interesting one, as the municipality that commissioned the ABC Coalition, St. Petersburg, has excommunicated it. Boy, I'll never miss an opportunity to work "excommunicate" into a blog post.

I'll direct you to a great St. Pete Times article from Stephen Nohlgren on the topic.

The whole "ABC Recommends Tampa" angle from other local media is blown out of proportion. The coalition didn't unleash any surprises in its final report. I still maintain, as I've said from the beginning, that the Rays will get a new stadium someday in Pinellas County's "Gateway" region near the bridges.

But here is another interesting article on how high-speed rail could affect the Rays' stadium bid. Even if The Trib's new Rays beat writer, Michael Sasso, implies the Indians still call Winter Haven their spring training home:
Mark Jackson of Winter Haven said the throng of Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers fans who attend spring training games in Polk County would travel to Rays games more often if a bullet train dropped them off at the stadium's doorstep.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Few Links...

In between all the legit talk of where the Rays will play in the future are columns like this on NBCNewYork.com. The writer speculates - based on Peter Gammons' random speculation - that the Rays could move to New York City. My guess is that the columnist and website are desperate for page-views.

In case you missed it, Rays VP Michael Kalt became the second executive to literally laugh out loud at the MLB-to-Orlando rumors. His reaction is described at the bottom of this article.

You can probably cross Portland off the list of potential cities the Rays could move to...they're going to lose their popular AAA team over a stadium dispute.

And, the Glazers secured their $806 million in bonds to help control their Manchester United debt. That's good news for both Man U. and the Bucs. Still doesn't mean the family is out of trouble financially.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Coalition Pleads with Tampa Bay to Work Together to Keep Rays

The ABC Coalition concluded its final scheduled meeting by approving a 22-page recommendation and pleading with the communities on both sides of Tampa Bay to cooperate for the greater good.

For more, continue reading here.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Baseball to Orlando? One Team Laughs Out Loud

It didn’t take long for the Milwaukee Brewers to rebuff a story by WFTV-TV in Orlando that the team could possibly relocate to Florida.

"The reporter or whoever else is putting that out there should do his homework," said Tyler Barnes, VP of Communications for the Brewers. "It's irresponsible. We just finished ninth in attendance, we have one of the best ballparks in baseball and an owner who is totally committed to the [Milwaukee] area.

"That report is beyond hilarious. I needed a good laugh today, and I got it."

The Friday night story was about the attempt of Armando Gutierrez, a candidate for Congress, to bring a Major League Baseball team to Orlando. Reporter Mark Boyle said in his report, “no one is saying right now exactly what MLB team would even consider the proposal.” But in his live tag, he said the Brewers could be one of the teams in the mix.

I’ve met and watched Mark and he's good, so I don’t think he just pulled the Brewers’ name out of thin air. But it is a bit sloppy to throw the speculation out there without citation (or thorough research). Not only are the Brewers doing well at the gate in Milwaukee, but their lease at the state-of-the-art Miller Park doesn't expire until Dec. 31, 2030.

Maybe the rumor came from an ill-educated Gutierrez, who obviously doesn't mind the publicity. The guy may mean well - with his grass-roots Facebook group - but he clearly doesn’t know how this game is played. He’d have an easier time getting an affordable meal at Disney than he would a full-time baseball team there.

MLB has federal anti-trust protection, which means it operates as a single business, not 30 different competitors. So even if a team wanted to move to Florida, they’d have to convince MLB that it was a good idea (Peter Gammons explains why it won’t happen here).

[My guess is that either Gutierrez or WFTV got their rumors mixed up. I’ve heard from inside baseball sources that the Brewers could relocate their spring training home from Arizona to Florida in a few years and that Orlando could be in the mix, along with Ft. Myers and a couple of other cities.]

There’s also the issue with proximity to the Rays and the hell they’d raise if another team moved into their television market...UNLESS, the team Orlando tried to lure WAS the Rays.

Could the Rays threaten to leave St. Petersburg for a new, privately-funded super-complex in Orlando? Sure. But I doubt it, as the only purpose it would serve would be to leverage St. Pete/Pinellas Co. into building them a new stadium.

The team would never really entertain the idea since all the problems they have in downtown St. Pete would be magnified in Orlando.

Don’t like Tampa traffic? Orlando’s is worse.

Don’t think enough fans live within 30 minutes of The Trop? Any Orlando location would be worse.

As long as the Rays are committed to The Trop, there’s no point to getting excited about MLB in the Orlando area. Unless you’re counting down the days for Braves’ pitchers and catchers to report.

Rays Fans Won't Like Reading This...

From this morning's Boston Globe:
The feeling is that if the Rays’ financial picture gets any gloomier, (Carl) Crawford will be trade bait by the trading deadline or even earlier. In fact, both he and Carlos Pena could have new addresses at some point in the season.

This news isn't news at all. Rays fans have been hearing this for quite some time.

But hearing it out of the mouth of a heralded writer in another baseball city such as Cafardo could have some significance. He's tied-in to every American League team and may know something the rest of us don't. However, it could also be meaningless re-hashing of rumors to fill his Sunday column. My money's on the former.

Even if the Rays are turning healthy profits as some suggest, a slight drop in those profits could create a "gloomy financial picture" for them...and could lead to a mid-season sell-off if they aren't sitting ahead of the Sox and Yanks.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Don't Hate the Player, Hate the Game

As I first wrote in May, this is how the game is played.

The Chicago Cubs wanted a new spring training facility. Since nothing is wrong with their current stadium in Arizona, they entertained bids from Florida developers in Naples. Worried about losing its economic engine, the City of Mesa (Ariz.) agreed to spend a robust $80 million for a new complex.

Sorry Naples, you got played worse than a barfly in the show Jersey Shore. Sorry Gov. Crist, your comments today about getting the Cubs (and planned trip to Naples tomorrow) are way too little, way too late. And sorry Cubs fans, the Ritz-Carlton in Naples will miss you.

But at least you all aren't alone...Remember how the Red Sox played Sarasota in 2008?

Don’t hate the players, hate the game.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Glazer, MLB Money Links

A few interesting links:

Bloomberg says the Glazers may have trouble selling $800+ million in bonds. Recent reports suggested they would sell bonds to get their debt under control. Meanwhile, another story from London shows that the Glazers are borrowing money from Manchester United.

And, while this isn't directly related to the Rays, it looks like MLB is forcing at least one team to increase payroll.

Here's a great read on the precident-setting nature of the MLB/Marlins deal and what it means for other low-payroll teams. The good news for Rays fans is that the team appears to be increasing its payroll again in 2010.

Monday, January 4, 2010

More Trouble for Glazers

A day after its football team finished off a 3-13 season, the Glazer family is facing mounting pressure from the other side of the Atlantic to sell its soccer team.

The Sunday Express in London says a fan group called MUST (the Manchester United Supporters' Trust) is pressuring the Glazers to sell the wildly popular soccer team. The paper reports the family was considering selling up to 600 million pounds ($973 million) of bonds to get its debt under control.

"The Glazers have taken us from being a club who were the richest in the world to the most indebted," said Duncan Drasdo, the CEO of MUST. "This is surely the time for the Glazers to exit and make way for a new investor interested in working with the supporters to build a stronger football club and business together."

The family purchased Manchester United in 2005 for approximately $1.3 billion, but most of that sum was borrowed money. Back in October, Dan Sileo suggested the Glazers - like so many homeowners who bought homes in 2005 - found themselves stretched too thin when the economy collapsed and they couldn't refinance their debt. The Glazers violently refuted parts of Sileo's story.

But the Express says the Glazers paid $112 million in debt alone last year, preactically negating the soccer team's $117 million operating profit. It's also not the first published report of the family's financial problems, as they sold their $24 million Palm Beach County home in December.

For more, continue reading here.