"I think everybody is curious what would happen or could happen if you had a stadium that was on the other side of Tampa that is accessible to Orlando residents as well as Tampa residents," (MLBPA chief Michael) Weiner said. "I guess the bet was that going south would expand the market. It hasn't really worked as expected."Weiner went on to share this blog's view of contraction (not on the table at all) and said he wished the Rays drew more fans (b/c more revenue for the league is good for the players!)
But what was Weiner trying to suggest? Not a stadium in Orlando, which would be a bad, bad idea. Obviously not stadium in Lakeland, halfway between Tampa and Orlando. So he meant near Tampa's Fairgrounds, where Orange County fans would still have to drive 60+ minutes to get to the game.
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn told me recently the Fairgrouds/I-4 area is a non-starter and a new stadium would have to be downtown. Especially since all the Rays talk about is how important a 30-minute commute is to attendance. Is hard to imagine slightly better proximity to Orlando - in a state without high-speed rail or modern transit - would help the Rays that much.