Thursday, November 29, 2012

Romano on Stadium Saga Again

Times columnist John Romano penned another column on the Rays' Stadium Saga for this morning's paper insisting the region pay very close attention to location - above all else - if it is going to build a new Rays stadium.

Taking a page from his colleague Michael Kruse's playbook, here are his three best and three worst grafs.

Three best:
"By now, everyone knows this is not a terrific sports market. That is neither insult nor criticism. It is simply reality based on the numbers."
Sometimes it's an elephant in the room, but accepting the fact that Florida's transient population struggles to rally around hometown teams is an important step in discussing the future of sport in the state.
"A new stadium anywhere in Tampa Bay would almost certainly be an improvement over where the Rays are now. The key is how much the needle moves."
Couldn't agree more.  In 2009, when everyone was still blaming Tropicana Field's dreariness for the attendance problems, I wrote "it's the bridge, stupid."  More psychological than anything.

"Drawing a few thousand extra fans per night when you've spent $600 million on a ballpark is not anyone's idea of a sound investment."
It's important to question the price tag for a less-than-spectacular attendance boost.  Especially when television revenues may soon eclipse in-stadium revenues.

Three worst:

"For baseball to work long term in Tampa Bay, revenues are going to have to increase. And a large part of that equation is getting attendance near Major League Baseball's average."
The Rays' revenues are increasing.  Approximately $50 million a year starting in 2013 from new national TV revenue, and probably another $50+ million in a few years when they renegotiate their local contract. So why are we stuck on the idea of increasing ticket revenue by a few million bucks a year?  It's also worth mentioning the Rays have yet to provide any evidence they're struggling financially.

"After all the ownership changes, political squabbles, World Series titles, fire sales and the $515 million ballpark bill with $130 million more worth of infrastructure, there is reason to question whether the stadium was built in the right location."
Sure, Marlins Park was built in a lousy location and Romano's right to suggest a new park is pointless if you don't put it in the right place.  But don't make excuses for the embarrassing first-year attendance numbers at Marlins Park; the Rays drew 30,942 in their first year at Tropicana Field.

"The Marlins may have messed up."
Actually, from the look of Jeffrey Loria's big fat wallet, he did everything right in a business sense.  It's Miami-Dade county that messed up.

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