And in this morning's Tampa Bay Times, Stephen Nohlgren points out Rays attendance may not matter nearly as much as how many fans are watching their games on TV (and there's a lot of them). Not to mention the huge MLB television revenues that have started to pad everyones' pockets:
The league recently renegotiated its national TV contracts, which, beginning in 2014, will earn each team an extra $25 million or so a year. That helped the Rays re-sign fan favorite Evan Longoria to a hefty new contract.Nohlgren also acknowledges the Rays may not get rich in 2017 after all, if the cable rights bubble bursts and the team cannot leverage two networks to bid against each other:
The prospect of the team moving from the Tampa Bay area may also diminish as other owners leverage their territory into lucrative, long-term TV deals.
"Television has now become so valuable that you can't move to Portland without impacting Seattle,'' said (Business of Baseball's Maury) Brown. "In San Antonio, the Rangers and Astros would fight any stadium deal.''
Even so, Rod Fort, sports economist at the University of Michigan, thinks the pressure for a new stadium will continue. He thinks baseball could engineer a third team in the metropolitan New York market by generating enough new wealth to pay off the Yankees and Mets.
In Tampa Bay, Fox remains the only sports network with cable and dish channels throughout the region. It's like the Rays have a rare antique to sell, but only one person might be buying.Of course, leverage drives up the price in all negotiating, which is why the Rays are probably loving all the Tampa vs. St. Petersburg talk for a new stadium.
Oh, and there was this interesting nugget in the Nohlgren article:
Despite the recent Miami Marlins' debacle, Fort said, new stadiums typically boost team revenue $10 million to $15 million a year.So despite Stu Sternberg telling me the team hadn't looked into the revenues a new stadium would bring, the Rays know exactly what a new stadium is worth....and they know exactly how much they'd be willing to pay for it.
What television revenues may do "is beside the point,'' he said. "It is always true that they would rather have a new stadium than an old stadium. It is the essence of what Major League Baseball is all about.''