Thursday, January 24, 2013

Rays Talk Stadium with Hillsborough Commission

Making his first appearance in front of Hillsborough County commissioners, Stu Sternberg suggested Major League Baseball could force relocation or contraction if the team's attendance problems weren't addressed soon.

"Major League Baseball at this point doesn't believe any more in the Tampa Bay area," Sternberg said toward the end of the team's hour-long presentation.

While he wouldn't specify who made comments to him, he implied it was coming from other owners as well as commissioner Bud Selig.

"There was threat of con-... consolidation a number of years ago," Sternberg said of Major League Baseball, seemingly stopping himself from using the word "contraction."

Many industry experts believe television contracts and the players' association would prohibit the league from ever contracting teams, but the threat often presents itself when teams search for new stadiums.

When asked if consolidation was a legitamate concern again, Sternberg acknowledged, "it's not really on the front burner by any stretch...but it's always an option."

Commission chair Ken Hagan campaigned in 2010 on promises to break the stadium stalemate, but little has changed in the two-plus years since. Thursday's meeting was - what he hopes - the first step toward getting the ball rolling.

"Too much is at stake to simply put our head in the sand," Hagan said, referencing St. Petersburg mayor Bill Foster, who has maintained the Rays need to abide by their contract.

"We've known there are problems with Tropicana Field - with that location since opening pitch in 1998," Hagan continued.  "I think Major League Baseball is somewhat complicit in allowing the team to go to (St. Petersburg) to begin with."

Foster told 10 News that the stalemate is because Sternberg has ignored his offers to sit down and discuss things like the recently-proposed stadium at Carillon, near the Howard Frankland Bridge.

"The people of my city have already paid for 15 more seasons," Foster said. "They're owed 1,215 more regular-season home games, bought and paid for."

Sternberg didn't address possible compensation for St. Petersburg, the team's impending television renegotiations, nor did he address how a stadium might be paid for.  When asked how much the team might contribute, he said he didn't know.

Hagan made it clear during the public meeting that he was "not talking about another taxpayer-funded stadium.  There will never be another Raymond James/sweetheart deal in this county.

Also interesting was Commissioner Kevin Beckner asking Sternberg what role transit (i.e. light rail) would have in his team's future success:

"Transit (is) the real difference-maker," Sternberg said.  "It's a foregone conclusion: wherever we end up (with a new stadium)...there will be a (transit) stop there.

For more, continue reading here.


  1. I have lost faith in the Tampa region there is no reason that the rays don't draw people..... I know all the reason's people say they don't go to games and it is all bs. I live in Orlando and I still make about 10 to 20 games a year.

  2. Maybe because they are constantly threatening us with relocation/contraction or trying to play us off against Tampa?

    Maybe because they do nothing but bitch about their current stadium and insult the area?

    Maybe because after all the millions pilfered from the city and state, we're sick of always being shaken out for more?

    Yeah, but the real problem here is the "faith" in the true baseball fans.