Thursday, January 19, 2012

Foster/Sternberg Summit - Extended Fallout

There was infinite Thursday-morning quarterbacking after the 2012 Foster/Sternberg summit, but the most thought-provoking opinions came from today's lead editorial in the Tampa Tribune. However, it didn't provoke many good thoughts.

The Trib joined the chorus of criticisms calling St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster "shortsighted" in the fight to keep the Rays in Tampa Bay. They urge him to make concessions on a contract that runs until 2027 - a contract the mayor is confident will keep the Rays here for at least 15 more years.

Foster added that the team's biggest concerns appear to be whether Tampa Bay can sustain three professional teams at all. A recent study suggests the market is over-extended (but not nearly as bad as in other cities).
"When (Sternberg) says he wants to look everywhere (for a new stadium), he means it," Foster said on WQYK. "It's not just Tampa Bay. . . . I don't think they see Hillsborough County as the answer."
So Devil's Advocate poses this question - if the concern really is the region, isn't it shortsighted for newspapers to push the issue now when it could be addressed in 2020 instead?

It seems the Rays have neither the legal leverage nor the alternatives to leave before then. And 8-10 years from now, we'll have a much better idea of where people live in Tampa Bay and how they get around.

By 2020, the region could have bus rapid transit or light rail to eliminate some of the inter-county transportation headaches.

By 2020, the region will be designing a new, improved span of the Howard Frankland Bridge.

By 2020, the economy could have improved to the point where residents may be willing to pay a 1/10-cent sales tax for a new stadium.

By 2020, we'll have a better idea of where a stadium will be best-situated and if the region really is capable of supporting three teams.

In 2012, we simply don't know these things yet. So to force the issue now (that means you, Tampa Tribune) may be shortsighted.

PS - the least thought-provoking opinion on the Foster/Sternberg summit came from the Trib's Martin Fennelly, who simply wasted column space with Godfather quotes. Really? REALLY?!?


  1. I'm born and RAYSed in Tampa and have been following your Shadow of the Stadium twitter for awhile now and the more I read about Mayor Foster and Stu Sternberg the more I fear that we will all lose this team. The Rays may be doomed to join our Tampa Bay Mutiny in the list of teams that just didn't work here.

    The stadium is a joke and I would know since I make the trip from Tampa at least twenty to thirty times a season, and I truly believe that the makeup of the crowd is 70/30 in favor of Hillsborough citizens.

    I would like to think that Foster and Sternberg care about the community and the team but nothing that they say instills any confidence in me. Then again now that I am in my twenties I realize that sports are about one thing, dollar signs. Our economy is circling the toilet bowl but all these men can talk about is themselves, not what could possibly help the community.

  2. There's exactly zero reason to even be having this debate for a new stadium. The owners are like spoiled children who just want more, more, more. When they're told to live within their budget, or keep their word, or spend their own money, they throw tantrums and threaten us.

    The paper has been ridiculous in their blind support for blowing through hundreds of millions of more public funds.

    Enough with the insanity. Foster should take an even harder line and reject any new deals, period. The Rays are unwilling to spend their own money or open their books for a valid accounting of their funds. If baseball fans want to fund the stadium, it should be solely on their wallets. Attendance would be interesting when the cost of a ticket, parking and crappy slice of concession pizza start costing a few hundred bucks.

    And even then, nothing will guarantee a winning team - especially when management still has no skin in the game. Witness the stellar performance of the Bucs. Will the Glazers refund us the money that they've been taking to field a bunch of losers?