Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Trib Column on Buckhorn Pitch Misses the Mark

Tribune columnist Joe O'Neill writes that Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn's ceremonial first pitch the other night was much more than a pitch. And he may be right...but he's also very wrong.

O'Neill says, "sooner than later, the Rays will unilaterally opt out of that (2027) Trop lease. It won't come cheap, but it's the cost of (un)doing business in the sports-franchise universe...the Rays will relocate to Tampa or they will move far away."

First of all, the Rays have a use agreement, not a lease. And they can't "opt out," only buy out.

But more importantly, it's wrong to assume all Pinellas locations are off the table.

Pinellas Co. still has the most available money and a Gateway/Toytown venue would still put the team more within reach of more fans.

O'Neill also asserts, "The water may be a 'big divide' when it comes to Trop attendees, but Tampa's mayor and key business interests have no problem bridging the bay."

I get his point, but if the businesses in Tampa supported the Rays in St. Pete, we wouldn't be having this discussion about the Rays moving.

1 comment:

  1. I'm not sure if Tampa would want to join the after work, rush hour traffic to go to Toytown/Carillon. Also, I'm not sure if Toytown/Carillon would support a 1pm, travel-day game. But, the upside is more people within a 30-min drive compared to downtown St Pete. Also, the demographics of Toytown/Carillon is younger and have more money than downtown St Pete.

    Questions are: 1. Would the Rays want to save buyout money to stay in N St Pete (if that is an option?)? 2. Does the downtown Tampa location allow for greater revenue streams than the Gateway and outweigh buyout? I think so.

    I believe that the convention center should be the focus in downtown Tampa and that the Rays would draw a greater number of conventions if the team was in downtown. The convention industry would benefit greatly from the Rays. Also, I believe that corporate sponsorship would be greater in Tampa (ie. Sykes, law firms, banks, maybe Hard Rock, Carnival, Publix, Marriott etc.). Rays could benefit sales of the new condos too.

    All in all, downtown Tampa may be the better deal for the Rays. What do you think?