Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Mayor Foster and the Stadium Saga "End Game"

Glad to see the Times' John Romano still providing insight on the Rays' Stadium Saga even after his move to the Metro page. This morning, he made a very reasonable suggestion for Mayor Bill Foster to consider the end game in negotiations with the Rays.
To be clear, I am not suggesting that the mayor roll over. There is no reason for that. He has a
terrific lease at Tropicana Field, and he should use it to his greatest benefit.

But he needs to recognize the lease will be half-over by the end of the year, and the Rays are going to pay less and less to get out of it as the expiration date draws nearer.
He should tell Sternberg he considers the Rays to be important business partners. And he hasn't given up on the idea of baseball in his town.

But if his business partner wants to look at sites in Hillsborough, the mayor will not stand in the way as long as the Rays make some concessions.

First of all, they need to sign a contract that acknowledges that such a move in no way weakens the lease at Tropicana. Since the Rays signed a similar document when looking at a waterfront site, this shouldn't be a problem.

The Rays also need to put up $1 million in earnest money for the privilege of talking to Tampa. Again, this shouldn't be much of a deal breaker.

Finally, should the Rays eventually decide that moving to downtown Tampa is integral to the
franchise's future, they must agree to allow St. Pete to view their finances to prove this is true. I'm betting that one will be sticky.
Wait, did I say Romano was being reasonable? Nevermind, he suggested the Rays might one day voluntarily open their books.

People don't give Foster (a lawyer) enough credit for paying attention to the end game. He has always known his job is to leverage a buyout number the city can live with. Just like Sternberg's job is to wiggle his way out of the contract with minimal financial penalty.

So while the topic of contract buyout will be discussed next week, you probably won't hear about it in the media. Foster will continue to maintain his lawyer-like approach, while Sternberg will continue to call for a regional remedy.

Meanwhile, Foster's counterpart in Tampa, Mayor Bob Buckhorn, will continue to tout his city's baseball potential while maintaining his statesman status.

1 comment:

  1. Romano is a brainless fanboy. God knows why he merited a move from writing nonsense on the sports page to writing nonsense on the local page.

    He is in love with suggesting exactly what the city should do but he can't give a single good reason *WHY* the city should tear up a contract when we all know damn well the Rays (or any MLB entity) are always fine with taking loopholes to cheat municipalities out of money.

    The city pays a TON of money to keep the team operating and in place and not once have they offered a solid accounting of their fiscal health. New stadiums and cushy deals will do nothing to ensure a winning team. Romano might see that if he pulled his head out of the sand and looked over at the Bucs and their stellar performance this year.