Friday, December 24, 2010

"I Guess the Glazers aren't Broke"

A quick follow-up to yesterday's post about the Glazers possibly selling Manchester United:

After the Bucs denied the report, news broke out of Chicago that Bryan Glazer was buying a $8.6 million condo.

That left 620 WDAE radio host Dan Sileo to Tweet me, "How funny..I guess the glazers aren't"

Thursday, December 23, 2010

British Tabloid Says Glazers Selling ManU

While its direct impact on the Bucs is unclear, The Sun in England is reporting this morning that the Glazer family will sell soccer team Manchester United, the more valuable, yet more indebted, of its two franchises. The Bucs have since dismissed the reports.

In recent months, other reports out of London indicated the Glazers were bleeding money on the team, but had begun paying off some of the debt, estimated as high as 100% of the value of the team.

The Sun reports that the Glazers will sell to "the Qatar royal a ($2.3 billion) deal." Qatar, of course, just landed the 2022 World Cup.

If the report is true, the Glazers would double their investment on the team, leaving them with up to a billion dollars cash profit after paying off their ManU loans. That's money they could sink back into the Bucs...or pay Bryan's enormous Davis Islands water bill.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Update: Tampa Chamber Wants to Advance Stadium Saga

Citing a need for SOMEONE in the Tampa Bay region to step up and help solve the Rays' stadium saga, the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce decided Thursday afternoon to forge ahead with an effort to further study how to build a stadium in the current economic climate.

"You can kind of get away right now from location," said chairman Chuck Sykes, echoing a comment I made earlier this year. "We don't think that's the way to approach it right now. We think we need to look more at finances."

"Debt is very difficult to get a hold of, taxes - people don't want, what else can you do?"

Sykes said there were other funding alternatives to explore, some of which could even potentially keep the Rays in St. Petersburg for generations to come.

Monday, December 13, 2010

What Tampa Bay Can Learn from Milwaukee

Nice short read from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel here on how the Brewers used a five-county tax (just 0.1%) to successfully finance Miller Park.

As Stu Sternberg knows, a similar effort could get a new Rays stadium funded, but it's an uphill battle in a region that's got a long history of city-versus-city competition.

Last month, I wrote:
One has to look toward collaborations like Tampa Bay Water and a potential three-county light-rail partnership as evidence that Tampa Bay is coming together as a single region. Previously, it's been city vs. city and county vs. county.
Convincing Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, and Manatee counties to work together for a regional asset is still the best hope for the Rays. And if I'm Sternberg, I spend my time this offseason figuring a way to make it happen - potentially piggybacking on the effort to get regional rail.

I think a new Rays stadium will still have to go at Toytown or similar Mid-Pinellas site, but that's the least of the problems in the Stadium Saga. Remember, land isn't the problem; funding is.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Rays Price Out Some Longtime Season Ticket Holders

Even in a down economy, it isn't completely surprising the Rays are raising prices on 38 percent of their tickets next year (some tickets actually drop in price too). But the most surprising thing about the 2011 ticket prices at The Trop is how much some tickets soared in price.

By reclassifying "Loge" seats (the few rows immediately behind the concourse in the lower bowl) as "Lower Box" seats, longtime season ticket holders there were told their tickets would cost 65 percent more next season.

"They complain that nobody comes, then they take an entire section and tick us off," said die-hard fan Sharon Greene, who has held season tickets since MLB announced a team was coming to Tampa Bay. "I understand prices going up (but) I don't really understand prices going up when the economy is so bad."

The rest of this story - including the video that explains why Greene is so upset - can be found here.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Player Movement Focus of 2010 Winter Meetings

Amazing what you see in the lobby of the MLB Winter Meetings. Beat reporters looking for nuggets of info. Agents looking for leverage. College kids looking for jobs. But the best thing I saw yesterday at the opening day of the industry's annual convention was the shocked look on one GM's face when he got a text saying, "Jayson Werth - 18M x 7 yrs."

I honestly don't expect much this week from the Rays and/or commissioner when it comes to the team's push for a new stadium. As I've said before, the economy and political climate may have slowed down their timetable a bit.

If there's any big news off-the-field Rays or MLB news, I'll post as soon as I can. But in the meantime, as player personnel moves dominate the headlines, I'll defer to Maury Brown from the Biz of Baseball for MLB business news and the fine folks from DRaysBay for Rays player news.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

MLB Winter Meetings Kick Off

I'll be spending a day or two down the road at the MLB Winter Meetings this week where I'll be...well, doing what every professional does at his/her annual convention. Socializing.

I will not be attending any clinics, I will not be signing any contracts, and I will not be discussing trades with 29 other GMs. If something big happens, I'll be there to cover it.

But since conventions (of all types) are more about networking than anything else...just look for me at one of the hotel lobbies or bars where everyone else is perfecting the art of convention-attending.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Vocal Minority Will Continue to Plague Rays

If you polled Tampa Bay taxpayers, I bet a majority would oppose spending tax dollars on a new Rays stadium right now. But the numbers would be close. And, depending on how the funding broke down, you may even be able to get a majority to support the idea.

But the small group of anti-tax advocates in Tampa Bay are getting louder by the day and will be very hard to overcome.

Example 1: At last night's Pinellas Commission meeting, where the board made the tough decision to extend the tourist tax at five cents until 2021 for tourist-related funding, a half-dozen residents yelled at the board for considering a handout to the Rays.

The only problem was that - while the bed tax extension kept the funding structure in place for a possible future stadium - yesterday's vote was specifically about reserving money for the new Dali Museum, beach renourishment, and tourism marketing.

Nevertheless, the continued overtures to a Rays stadium made several commissioners visually uncomfortable and no matter how many times commissioners and St. Pete Mayor Bill Foster reminded folks that a new stadium plan would require multiple future votes, the explosive issue could not be diffused.

Example 2: While I was doing our 11pm liveshot (it was a MARATHON meeting), I missed a confrontation between the Tea Partiers in the audience and Mayor Bill Foster. St. Petersburg Times writer David DeCamp explains:

But the night certainly created fireworks. At the end, Foster got nearly nose-to-nose with tax opponent Hamilton Hanson in a hallway. Hanson accused Foster of secretly engaging in talks with the Rays.

"It's not taking place, I'll tell you that straight to your face right now," Foster said before seeking an elevator.

Leaving the county building, several of the loud opponents cursed the Democratic process to me as well.

What this shows is that - after the 2008 stadium debacle - the stadium conspiracy theorists aren't going away. And, after the 2010 election, they feel more empowered than ever. Any effort to work toward a new Rays stadium won't have to just overcome monsterous funding issues, but also elected officials' fear in addressing the issue.