Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Morning After: Rays/Pinellas Fallout

Some perspespective on yesterday's Rays meeting with Pinellas commissioners, in addition to my post pointing out the team's provided season ticket stats paint a very incomplete picture (and my subsequent clarifying tweet).

STU STERNBERG: A new stadium, in the right place, would average 30,000 fans a night.

The Rays' owner said a new stadium would bring the Rays up to the league average, but even a stadium dead smack-dab in the middle of Tampa Bay's business core, Westshore, would only increase the number of fans living within 30 minutes of the stadium to somewhere in the 1.6 million range.  That would still only rank the Rays approx. 24th in the league.

The Marlins' brand-new stadium drew just 28,400 a game in its first season.   The Mets, with their large payroll and even larger market size, drew just 28,305.  The playoff-bound Reds drew just 28,978 in their new stadium.  And the Braves, playing in a large market and a modern stadium, drew just 29,878 last year.

After the meeting, I asked Sternberg how he expected to draw 30,000 fans a night, to which he responded, "I believe in baseball."  I asked for clarification and he said he believes in the Tampa Bay fans to come out if a new stadium is built.

STU STERNBERG: "We’re not going to be able to continue (this kind of success), even with a $150M payroll...But (new revenues) help to stack the deck."

Sternberg said the team can't sustain its success without a new stadium, but yesterday, he said they couldn't sustain its success with a new stadium, either.  So how much better of a shot will the Rays have with the new revenues from a new building?

That would depend on how much the team would take in from new revenues.  How much new revenue would a stadium create for the Rays?  Sternberg told me after the meeting he hadn't looked into it yet.

It's a baffling response, considering Sternberg had just told the Pinellas Commission that "we like to plan out...based on future when we sign Evan Longoria to a contract that's going to run past 2020, we've got to make decisions based on some of the facts we know."

TAMPA BAY PARTNERSHIP: We could facilitate discussions between the Rays, St. Pete, and others.

Courtesy of the Trib's Michael Sasso, news that the region's economic promoter (with Rays President Matt Silverman on its board of directors) may try to help broker a deal or at least break the ongoing stalemate.  In 2011, I speculated that business groups may help broker a deal between the Rays and St. Pete, and - sorry Pinellas Commissioners - it remains the most likely avenue toward finding some middle ground.

TIMES EDITORIAL BOARD: "The mayor sat in the audience...but slipped out midway through, leaving the commission chairman, Ken Welch, to pass along Foster's offer to meet with Sternberg on Thursday. It was an awkward move that captured the mayor's halting performance on a day when the focus was opening lines of communication."

As Mayor Bill Foster has pointed out, he and the Times have drastically different goals in the Stadium Saga.  So it's no surprise the paper took another jab at him.

But when the mayor had to leave 15 minutes early to meet with Sweetbay supermarket executives in Gainesville - a meeting the Times' editorial board suggested a week earlier - it's unfair to criticize his priorities.  Mayor Foster says he has been rebuffed by Sternberg at least twice recently in attempts to "open up lines of communication," as the Times implores.  And upon leaving yesterday's meeting, he sent the message that his door was still open to the Rays' brass.


  1. Gary Bettman = Bill Foster

  2. Foster is looking after the financial best interests of St. Pete residents.
    Sternberg wants a get out of jail (that he bought into) free card.
    It's the tail trying to wag the dog.

  3. "After the meeting, I asked Sternberg how he expected to draw 30,000 fans a night", because the the Lightning drew 19.2k on a Tuesday night last night without many Hispanics or Black people which is the majority of Tampa's population. The Rays might not average 30k, but they'll get close with all of the corp. tix bought...


  5. Everybody's just falling down (except this site) over Sternberg's pronouncements - including those who have a vested interest like the second "Anonymous".
    Of course, nobody's bringing up the fact that the Rayz would have to AVERAGE almost twice the Lightning capacity to meet Sternberg's number.
    Ya' know that EVERYTHING connected with gamedays will be more expensive with a new mallpark and where's the groundswell of corporate interest in the Rayz in Tampa - been pretty quiet out there.
    No sense in rushing into the Rayz demands without a complete evaluation of the situation, they ain't goin' anywhere else. Make the dog wag the tail.