Friday, August 16, 2013

What Conclusions Can We Draw From Selig's Intervention?

We all know not to read too much into Bud Selig's saber-rattling, but are this week's comments a sign of anything more than the commissioner's continued frustrations in Tampa Bay?

We can draw some conclusions (plus some snarky responses!) from Selig's quotes in a piece:
"We were optimistic that this was moving in a very positive direction," Selig said. "Unfortunately, we're stalled. It's serious enough that in the last 48 hours, I've given very strong consideration to assigning someone from MLB to get involved in this process and find out what's going on.
It would seem all the optimism between Rays owner Stu Sternberg and St. Pete Mayor Bill Foster has turned sour.  The city gave the blessing for the Rays to explore Tampa sites, pending a contract amendment, but could negotiations have broken down?

Just a few weeks ago, St. Pete's top attorney, John Wolfe, said an agreement is "a long way off."  And Foster has repeatedly cautioned the media and his Tampa counterparts against getting too far ahead of themselves.

Clearly, the Rays and St. Pete haven't found common ground yet on the ground rules of a search: either the financial terms or the legal limitations, designed to protect St. Pete's contractual interests.   However, Foster denied negotiations have stalled.

Selig continued:
"(The Rays have) been a model organization, extraordinarily capable. Under this ownership, they've done everything in their power to make their ballpark situation work. They have a very, very, very competitive club. Years have ticked by with no progress to resolve the situation. And frankly -- and this is coming directly from me -- baseball needs a resolution to this problem."
So MLB "needs a resolution" to the region's hesitance to spend half a billion dollars on a new stadium.  I guess it would be too much to suggest MLB open up its checkbook for a "resolution?"

USA Today's Bob Nightengale, who was the first to report on Selig's comments, even questioned how much Selig could do, telling WTSP's Chris Fischer, "I just don’t know if there’s another city in the county that there’s a good spot for baseball."

The Rays' owner spoke Thursday as well:
"We just want to look at a number of spots in the Tampa Bay area," Sternberg said. "St. Petersburg has threatened to talk to anybody who talks to us. It's a free country -- we can do whatever we want to do -- but I guess it becomes a potential legal issue for anybody who wants to talk to us. Tampa, in particular, has decided not to because of the threats. We can't do the deep down dive to explore the situation because of this."

Sternberg and Selig go back to their trusty well here, using public opinion to leverage St. Pete off its contract.  St. Pete's council chair, Karl Nurse, told the Tampa Tribune that Selig's comments were the “usual pressure on the city to go borrow several hundred million dollars and buy us another facility...I guess if they bring a big enough checkbook, that would be just fine...I assume their intention is not to bring a big checkbook.”
Sternberg said the club is surviving on revenue sharing, but his fellow owners are beginning to wonder how long it's going to take for the Rays to reach some sort of self-sustained economic stability.
"The key here is to recognize that without the revenue-sharing dollars, we wouldn't even be able to compete or do what we're doing.

"The other owners are looking at this and saying, 'How many years is this going to be? How much money is this going to be to a failing situation?'"

Revenue sharing will never go away; it's a mechanism MLB set up to ensure teams in smaller media markets could still compete with teams in large media markets.  Everyone in MLB is making money, and everytime a new stadium is built on someone else's dime, everyone in MLB profits even more.  No one team can cost any other team huge amounts of money.

So is it really the fault of Bill Foster, Karl Nurse, Bob Buckhorn, Rays fans, or Tampa Bay taxpayers that MLB's owners aren't getting richer as fast as they'd like?  Or is it simply because MLB built its business model this way (and done quite well under it, too)?


  1. Selig is a windbag. 4 years ago he formed a committee to figure out how to move the Oakland A's to San Jose. That committee has yet to file a report.

    Furthermore Selig promotes pure evil. I would like to see him do a public forum in Miami where $500 million of public money was spent for a new stadium for what is now possibly the worst team in MLB.

    The irrefutable fact regarding Rays attendance is that to have 'good' attendance the region must have BOTH a good team and a good economy. Without both, it does not matter where or how nice the stadium is.

    A couple of weeks ago, the 'good economy' was emulated by the Rays by providing $2 tickets for a Thursday night game that drew 25,000 and by providing for 'back-to-school' backpacks the following Sunday that sold out the Trop - 34,078. If people deem they can afford to go to the Trop, and the team is good (as is the case now), they will go.

    It will be a real shame, if the the public has to fork up another $500 million or more to build a new stadium, that will continue to have many empty seats when the good economy/good team combination is not present.

    If MLB/Rays want to leave the 14th largest TV market in the country, and are willing to pay St. Petersburg a 9 figure settlement for breaking their contract early, then I say don't let the door hit you on the way out.

  2. Scott St.Pete is so low class. I mean you sound like your from st.pete. We need to cut welfare benefits to help pay for a ballpark. Middle income and high income citizens make this country run. Lets make these welfare pay their share. All they do is take.

  3. Anonymous,

    So giving public money to millionaires/billionaires is not welfare? As I have already told you, I am not from St. Pete, but certainly would attach no negative stigma to it if I was.

    Obvioulsy, you are much better steeped in economics than I am - so how to you make people who have no money pay their fair share?

  4. Cut their welfare benefits

  5. Anonymous,

    Are you a middle income or high income person?

  6. Anonymous,

    Posting anonymously is really classy.

  7. Anonymous,

    Is 138K per year middle or high income?

  8. "Lets make these welfare pay their share. All they do is take."

    So your solution is allowing sports owners with billion-dollar assets to TAKE hundred of millions of free money to construct what will ostensibly be their playhouses?

    You couldn't make it up.

  9. He's a troll. Don't take the bait.

  10. Brendan,

    We don't know if Anonymous is a he or a she.

  11. Building those playhouses create jobs. Such as comstruction projects etc....

  12. St.Pete cant cry about what they pay for the Trop when baseball told them not to build it in the first place. Sternberg made a game at the trop more affordable compared to other ballparks. You can even bring your own food in. Sternberg improved the atmosphere. It's time for st. pete as a minor league city. They voted the waterfront stadium. They hold an outdated lease and dont let them leave. St.Petersburg a low class city with out dated thinking.

    1. MLB chose to put a team there after the stadium already existed, so it knew what it was getting.

      And St. Pete never voted on that stadium proposal.

      Not to mention there is no "lease" - it's a contract - and that's different.

    2. A lease is a contract. The current corporation that is the Tampa Bay Rays have a contract with the City. If the team were sold to a shell company with no assets, then the team's "new" ownership broke the contract, the City would sue and sue and sue and probably not collect a dime.

    3. Except MLB operates as a single business entity, not 30 individual entities. Bankruptcy or insolvency would drag MLB's anti-trust exemption into court - which isn't worth anywhere near what new stadium revenues would be worth to the team/league.

  13. Anonymous,

    But MLB owners were happy to take the $160 million or so back in 1997-1998 from the original Devil Rays ownership group, were they not?

    We still don't know if you are a he or a she.

    And we still don't know if $138K annual income makes you middle income or high income.

  14. Anonymous,

    Nobody voted for the waterfront stadium. Get your facts straight. The Rays pulled it before it went to the polls.

    Its a shame too, it would have been on the November 2008 ballot that had an influx of young voters. Would have been fun to see how that would have played out with the Rays fresh off of a World Series run just a few weeks before.

  15. I agree with name is aaron berry and im from the bay area. I am a Athletics fan and I want a new ballpark in Oakland. But similar to st. Petersburg , Oakland is not putting in their fair share toward the neaballpark. I feel both oakland and tampa bay area sjould lose their teams if they dont cough up the dough

  16. This is all part of the scheme, mlb'ers including Stu consider the market as unsophiscicated and easily prone to outside pressure to stay "big league".
    Commish office has no muscle to make anything happen as long as the
    cowering locals keep giving in to their demands.
    When that doesn't happen to Stu's satisfaction, "da man" steps in to put the
    fear in them hicks.
    Notice that bud-dy isn't pulling this charade in cali.? There he has a biz partner there that holds all the cards and local newz media that won't
    be his lap dogs.
    Don't be surprised if what is "stalling" the process is the Rayz insisting on
    a get-out-of-the-trop-free card but the st. pete city council isn't that stupid.
    Are they?
    BTW - neither area will "lose" the franchises, there's nowhere for them to go to or they would have used another place like st. pete to get what they want.
    mlb over expanded and have no threat cities unlike the NFL.