Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year, New Push for Progress on Rays Stadium Saga

Both the Times and the Trib listed the Stadium Saga as one of the biggest stories facing Tampa Bay in 2014.

According to the Times, its one of the region's "seven biggest stories" {link to Times site}:
After four years of stalemates and failed negotiations between the Rays and Foster, incoming Mayor Rick Kriseman has an opportunity to start fresh. The Rays understandably want to look in Tampa at potential stadium sites, and it is up to Kriseman to find a creative way to let the team do that while protecting St. Petersburg's interests. It is unclear how either side of the bay would find the money to help pay for a new stadium that likely will cost more than $500 million. That's why the Rays need to look for the best site on either side of the bay so the tougher financial discussions can begin.

The Rays' lease with St. Petersburg to play in Tropicana Field expires in 2027, and every year that ticks off that deal means less negotiating leverage for the city. Six years have been wasted, and Tampa Bay cannot let another three or four years go to waste if this region hopes to keep major-league baseball here for the long term.
The holdup is that St. Pete has insisted the Rays discuss finances and compensation for breaking a contract early, while the team doesn't want to until they can search specific sites.

I'm not sure three or four more years of inaction would necessarily doom the long-term prospects of MLB in the region since the current contract runs for another 13 years.

Meanwhile, the Trib says progress "needn't be a stretch next year":
Kriseman should acknowledge that reality and also recognize the city could benefit should the team move. The Tropicana site could offer St. Petersburg some powerful redevelopment opportunities.

The team’s ownership, for its part, needs to demonstrate a commitment to the area and a willingness to make financial contributions toward a new stadium.
As far as I can remember, this is the first time the Trib has called upon the Rays to stop stalling and talk finances.  Of course, the Times has been suggesting it for years, only to give the team a free pass at every opportunity.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Dan Ruth on Hagan's BCS Jobs Claim

As if Deadspin, Shadow of the Stadium, and Politifact weren't enough, Pulitzer-winning columnist Dan Ruth was the latest to pile it on Hillsborough Commissioner Ken Hagan this weekend for some unrealistic job claims associated with the 2017 BCS Championship game, now set for Tampa {link to Times' site}:
In his excitement over attracting the championship game, Hagan claimed the clash of titans would generate roughly 2,000 jobs and pave the streets of Tampa in gold. The commissioner based his assertion on a couple of articles he admitted he had only "skimmed" attesting to the pile-driving economic engine a college title contest could visit upon a city.

Of course, such estimates are complete phooey.
And yet, despite a solid and growing amount of data to the contrary, public officials like Hagan persist in inaccurately claiming a Super Bowl or a college football championship game will generate impressive job growth and profits for the host city. Poppycock, but understandable poppycock.
After all, you couldn't very well expect a sitting county commissioner to say something like: "Even though the NCAA championship game won't do diddly to our bottom line and even though it might only create a handful of jobs, and not ones with much of a future at that, having the event here will look really swell on television and the catering will be fabulous."

Elected officials are supposed to be all about monetary returns influencing their decisions, not martinis.
The irony is that Hagan's comments appeared in the Times and went largely unchallenged initially.

But Ruth's hard line against sports' economic engine claims contradicts the stance the Times' editorial board seems to take with the Rays, which - if nothing else - attests to the independence columnists enjoy at the paper.

Trigaux's 2014 Prediction for the Rays' Stadium Saga:

From Robert Trigaux's Sunday column, "For 2014, 10 predictions for the new No. 3 state in the country" {link to Times' site}:
The wishful idea of eventually relocating the Tampa Bay Rays to the Channelside area as a hip, urban sports stadium and catalyst to downtown development will suffer major setbacks as more critics point out the area's poor road access and parking infrastructure. If seriously boosting home game attendance is the goal, a Channelside destination will be hard-pressed to deliver a surge in ticket buyers. And that may spark new debate on alternate locations.
All good points.  For more on each topic, visit previous Shadow of the Stadium coverage:

Bill Foster Wishes Rick Kriseman Luck on Rays Stadium Saga

From Bill Foster's exit interview with Mark Puente {link to Times' site}:
Reflecting on another decision, Foster said he is proud he protected taxpayers in the stadium stalemate with the Tampa Bay Rays.

He hopes Kriseman does the same, saying: "If he handles this situation the way I did, the Rays will be here in five years. If he deviates, then I don't think they'll be south of the Mason-Dixon line."

Although Foster served on the council before he became mayor, he said his family wasn't prepared for repeated criticism he received as the city's leader. Attacks from residents and editorial boards were some of the hardest parts of the job, he added.
What ever could Foster be talking about?

Actually, he brings up some good points that have been addressed previously in this blog:

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Reader calls Henderson a "Lazy Sportswriting Diva"

Gee, I hope this Tampa Tribune letter to the editor wasn't referring to me when it referenced "lazy sportswriter divas!"
How utterly offensive and disgusting were the comments by (Joe) Henderson about the Rays not going anywhere but Tampa. Saying Montreal was not “stupid enough” to build a stadium without a team was a direct slam at St. Pete. He still has not accepted the fact that St. Pete has a team, and Tampa does not — despite the lazy reporting of many sport “pros” who call the team Tampa.

Back during the baseball wars across the bay, there were many ugly comments coming from the Tampa side. Unfortunately, the Tampa fans did not have the energy to support the team, just complain.

I can’t wait to hear the complaints of people trying to get to downtown Tampa at rush hour for a game. I’ve already talked with a friend in Tampa who said he prefers going to the Trop, rather than having your downtown location.

Seems like the only folks who do not like going to the game at the Trop are those who want to make money off the team, and the lazy sportswriter divas. Fans love it!
I have to imagine Henderson has developed a thick skin over his years as a sports columnist, and I also imagine its not the worst he's been called... 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Romano's Rays Christmas Carol

From John Romano's Christmas Eve column {link to Times' site} sung to the tune of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town":
You better come now
You better not stop
You better say Wow!
When you're at the Trop
Dang those Rays are leaving this town.

They're studying the lease
And checking it twice
They're gonna shout out
We can't pay David Price
Dang those Rays are leaving this town.

They miss crowds when they're playing
They curse when you're away
They know if you've bought beer or food
If not, there's hell to pay.

Ohhh, you better come now
You better bring Pop
You better know how
To charge at the Trop
Dang those Rays are leaving this town.

Politifact Debunks BCS Championship Jobs Claim

If you didn't believe the evidence this blog or Deadspin provided to refute Hillsborough Commissioner Ken Hagan's inflated BCS Championship jobs claim, maybe you'll believe PolitiFact?
Economists said those kinds of numbers tend to be grossly inflated, and are difficult to parse, especially when the determining factors aren’t well-defined. Even with Hagan’s relatively conservative offhand guess, those experts said the numbers are wide of the goalposts.

We rate this statement Mostly False.
Coming on the heels of another PolitiFact ruling against Braves stadium econimic claims, its good to see fact-checkers getting more involved in stadium subsidy issues.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Good Christmas Week Reading!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

FCC Moves Forward with Blackout Ban

According to USA Today (owned by the same company I work for), the FCC voted in favor of a proposal to eliminate blackouts:
"The sports blackout rules were originally adopted nearly 40 years ago when game ticket sales were the main source of revenue for sports leagues...," the FCC said. "Changes in the sports industry in the last four decades have called into question whether the sports blackout rules remain necessary to ensure the overall availability of sports programming to the general public."

Even if the government eliminates its rule, nothing would preclude leagues, networks and cable outlets from agreeing to their own deals that would include a blackout rule, either matching the current structure or agreeing to a revised one.
The NFL pledged to fight any change in the rules, pointing to recent rule-changes as evidence.  Only one game out of 224 this year (Bengals at Chargers, Dec. 1) has been blacked out, although the Bills could make it a second this weekend.  According to USA Today, 50% of the 210 games were blacked out in 1978.

Henderson: Montreal Nothing But a Boogeyman

Following Michael Sasso's Wednesday piece in the Tampa Tribune about the likelihood Montreal could steal the Rays, columnist Joe Henderson follows it up today with a nice piece identifying the Canadian city as the "bogeyman who can help scare this area into building a new stadium for your Tampa Bay Rays."
Mind you, I don’t think we have anything to be scared about. If the Rays move anywhere, it will be across the bay to downtown Tampa. There has been precious little urgency about getting it done, though, because the Rays have no alternative to the catwalk-covered catastrophe known as Tropicana Field.

They probably still don’t, but it might help if local politicians believe they do. If you’ve ever been to Montreal, you know what a dynamic, lovely place it is.
As well-documented on this blog, I don't think the Rays will move to Montreal either.  And I don't think they will move to any other region, either.

But as Peter Gammons said, MLB teams "need to be able to blackmail" cities.

And as Jerry Reinsdorf said, "a savvy negotiator creates leverage."

So sure, why not use Montreal as the boogeyman?

Henderson also echoed my 2009 post that predicted the Rays would take a trip to some "MLB-starved city...a trip like that would normally go under-the-radar, but a well-placed call to someone like Peter Gammons or Rob Neyer will drop the tip that the Rays are exploring other communities."

In Henderson's words:
This is all about pressure, though, so, I would expect a few well-timed leaks from mystery sources saying the Rays might be headed to the cold, frozen north unless they get a new stadium. That might finally get things going here.

And when the new place eventually opens somewhere in Tampa, we can finally close this chapter of the team’s history and maybe offer a merci to our Canadian friends for helping to make it happen. We should appreciate them for stepping up.
That's just part of the stadium subsidy blueprint.  So rather than panic, Rays fans in Tampa Bay should just accept it, prepare for it, and - why not? - chuckle at it.

A smarter approach may be to figure out how much the team would be willing to put toward a new stadium and see if the region still wants to close the funding gap with public money over the next 10-15 years.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Perspective on Tampa's 2017 BCS Championship Bid

Tampa scored a nice victory this week by landing the 2017 BCS college football championship {link to Times' site}.  This comes on the heels of a successful NCAA hockey Frozen Four bid and a string of other events planned for Tampa.

I've written previously about how these bids often offer big-money concessions to leagues to land the events, but apparently, it's more than worth it since the BCS Championship will bring thousands of jobs to Tampa Bay
Hagan said he expects the championship to be an economic boon to Tampa "in the range" of the Super Bowl, bringing somewhere between $250 million and $350 million to the area, along with approximately 1,700 to 1,800 full-time jobs.
I don't know how Hagan came up with these numbers and I don't know how the Times allowed that to go unchallenged. But Deadspin had the same questions:
If Hagan wants to explain how a single game, at a stadium that already exists, is going to create 1,700 full-time jobs, we're happy to listen.

There hasn't been a ton of research on the economic impact of hosting a big sporting event, but what there is isn't pretty. Since Hagan cited the Super Bowl, we'll cite Philip Porter's research that found the net local impact of six different Florida Super Bowls was effectively zero, with the money going to out-of-town hotel owners, and the events actively crowding out other businesses. Or Dennis Coates's and Brad Humphreys's study showing no change in per capita income in Super Bowl host cities. Slightly more optimistically, there's Robert Baade's and Victor Matheson's study of 25 Super Bowls that found the NFL overstated the economic influx by a factor of 10, and local politicians exaggerated even more.
The good news for Hagan - even if the printed quote was missing proper context - is those numbers will likely be repeated over and over the next three years.

Regardless, we hope the BCS Championship will be a good thing for Tampa, at least bringing a nice little retail boost - and lots of "heads in beds" - on New Year's week 2017.  And another tip of the cap to Rob Higgins, the man behind the bids for the Tampa Bay Sports Commission.  He told the Times the bid's social media strategy was a large part of its success.

It's just too bad we may never know everything that was included in the bid.  Like how many public resources, tax breaks, and other concessesions were offered to get the game.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

More on Braves & Atlanta's White Flight

Remember this little tweet on Nov. 11?
Well, the AP explains it a little more in-depth this weekend:
[T]he decision also highlights long-standing disparities over wealth, where people live and transportation — all facets of life connected to race and social class in Atlanta. The Braves will be moving from an area that's predominantly black and relatively poor compared to whiter Cobb County — where the team says more ticket-buyers live. Although it is long past segregation, the hometown of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. is far from integrated, and the city's politics, business and even sports teams reflect that gap.

Consider what Rick Grimes views from his home blocks from Turner Field each time there's a game: fans, mostly white, streaming past on the sidewalk.

"I would say the large majority of people who support the Braves are white folks," said Grimes, who is African-American.

While no one would reasonably accuse the Braves of making a decision based on race or class, one scholar says major attractions often migrate toward money.

"It becomes a class issue in a lot of ways," said Larry Keating, a Georgia Tech professor emeritus who has studied Atlanta's development. "A lot of the primo stuff that is highly valued by the society ends up going where the wealthiest areas are."
Continue reading here.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Weekend Reading: Rowdies, Recruiting, Cleveland Clowns

  1. Tampa Tribune: Bill Edwards buys Rowdies, will add 1,100 seats to Al Lang
  2. Priceonomics: Stanford athletics overcome academic hurdles with fundraising
  3. Field of Schemes: Stadiums. Don't. Make. Money.
  4. Crain's Cleveland Business: The NFL rarely loses

Tampa Lands 2016 NCAA Frozen Four

Nice shout-out in this morning's Tampa Trib for Tampa Bay Sports Commission Executive Director Rob Higgins after he helped land the 2016 NCAA Frozen Four:
Even those who don’t know a puck from a pansy should be pleased Tampa will host the 2016 Frozen Four — the NCAA college hockey championship.
Under executive director Rob Higgins, and with the help of political and business leaders, the agency has been impressive in recruiting sporting events that help fill hotel rooms, restaurants and local attractions.
The key is "heads in beds," and these kind of events seem to provide much more real economic benefits than things like the Republican National Convention (which kept locals away from Tampa) or permanent sporting events, which seem to merely transplant spending from one part of the region to another.

Another thing: while the Tampa Bay Sports Commission likely had to offer concessions (financial help for facilities, hotels, transportation, police, etc), the bang-for-the-buck will likely better for these 19,000 fans than it would for an event like the NCAA Basketball tournament, which tends to draw more interest and competition.

That's why the successes and failures of the commission don't hinge on events like Super Bowls, but smaller (and cheaper) tournaments that attract out-of-towners to the region.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Montreal Feasibility Study Says Landing Team Would Cost $1 Billion

If Montreal wants the Rays someday, it'll cost more than a billion bucks. 

That's according to a new $400,000 feasibility study (not sure if that money was counted in the $1B) done by Ernst & Young for a group of Montreal businessmen looking to bring MLB back to town.  The leader of the group is former Expos player Warren Cromartie.

On one hand, the study concluded the city could easily sustain a baseball team, given the region's 3.8 million population.  That's slightly more than Tampa Bay's, depending how you measure a metro.

But on the other hand, there doesn't appear to be anywhere near enough money to build a new stadium, estimated at $500 million, plus another $525 million to buy a team.  Furthermore, the proposed stadium would be open-air, similar to Minnesota's Target Field.

From the "you can make a statistic say anything" department, the study concluded a new Montreal stadium would draw between 27,600 and 31,600 fans per night.  This was based on resident polling and a comparison of attendance in Seattle, Minnesota, San Diego, Arizona, and Milwaukee (why not Tampa Bay?)

Of course, the study ignored the fact that the Expos were drawing fewer than 10,000 fans per game their final few year.  Maybe the study was conducted by Youppi! or Scott Boras.

How else to explain Quebecers newfound love for baseball?  Maybe they really are interested in seeing baseball in a brand-new outdoor stadium.  But who knows if a team could sustain 27,000 fans a night once the "new ballpark smell" wears off (the Mets, Padres, D-Backs, White Sox, Mariners, Astros, Indians, and Marlins couldn't).

Too bad we will probably never know, since there doesn't seem to be anyone in Canada looking to blow a billion bucks on baseball.

Which Will Get Bigger Play in Tomorrow's Papers?

You make the call - which piece of "news" will get the front page of tomorrow's local papers?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Verducci on Rays Stadium Saga

A level-headed, honest take on the Rays' Stadium Saga from Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci:

Atlanta Shenanigans: Weather Channel Following Braves' Subsidy Plan

Neil deMause notes The Weather Channel may follow in the Atlanta Braves' footsteps and ink a subsidy deal in Cobb County:
The Marietta Daily Journal reports that these could include “significant” tax breaks for the Weather Channel agreeing to stay in town.

That sounds bad, and it is, but the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Kyle Wingfield notes that at least the Weather Channel is talking about adding about 250 jobs at an average salary of $75,000. The Braves, meanwhile, are promising 4,014 jobs (some at projects surrounding the stadium) for a total payroll of $61 million, which is an average salary of … $15,000? Clearly those aren’t full-time jobs, which makes sense, since most baseball jobs aren’t.

Which means if you pro-rate it to maybe 1,500 full-time equivalent jobs, then Cobb is looking at shelling out at least $200,000 per job, which is just dismal. But then, “dismal” is increasingly looking like Cobb’s middle name.
So who else in Atlanta wants them some Cobb Co. tax dollars?  Home Depot?  Coca-Cola?  The Varsity?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Would Brewers Really Move to Fla.? Could Pinellas Co. Really Land Another Team?

My focus at the Winter Meetings Tuesday was spring training and what fallout we'd eventually see if the Blue Jays and Astros continue their plans to move to Palm Beach Gardens.

Of course, there was the recent news about Dunedin (and thus, Pinellas Co.) courting the Brewers.  But after speaking to some Pinellas County commissioners today, I learned of another idea that had been thrown against the wall (who knows if it will stick): possibly expanding Clearwater's Brighthouse Field to accommodate a second spring team.

Granted, its a longshot, but the creative move would qualify for matching state spring training retention funds (even if Pinellas just steals a team from another Florida city).

Then again, one good source in Milwaukee told me the Brewers would only entertain the Florida idea to drum up leverage to get their desired renovations in Phoenix.

Meanwhile, Pinellas has its hands full with all the mouths that want to be fed from the tourist tax trough...a Clearwater aquarium, beach renourishment, and a BMX park are just a few of the interests that have requested county money.  And if the Rays want the $200 million or so that will soon be available they'd better ask fast!  (Hillsborough, by the way, cannot bond nearly that much from new bed taxes)

Either way, this is all good hot stove talk on a day where the Rays declined all comments on their Stadium Saga....

Read more about Pinellas County's plan on WTSP.com.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Minneapolis Faces Tough Stadium Funding Questions (Almost Too Late)

Stadium subsidy deficits sometimes take eight or 10 years to destroy a community's budget, or in the case of Glendale, at least until your team threatens to move again.  But in Minneapolis, there's already trouble brewing for the Vikings' new yet-to-be-opened stadium.

According to Field of Schemes, the state of Minnesota's budget & economic forecast indicates its stadium reserve fund will be depleted by 2016:
And after 2016, what happens? Minneapolis tax revenue currently going to pay off the convention center should be available starting in 2020, but until then, it’s anyone’s guess. Schowalter said the state could “restructure” the payments to forestall any budget gap until the convention center money starts flowing, but that would mean higher payments later, and the convention center money is also going to be needed to pay for previously approved renovations to the Timberwolves‘ Target Center, so … I’m serious, this is really the kind of thing that should be explained in a budget forecast document. If budget forecasts were really about the explaining.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

St. Pete Adds Another Lawyer to its Stable

In addition to outgoing mayor Bill Foster (a lawyer), incoming mayor Rick Kriseman (a lawyer), and city attorney John Wolfe, the City of St. Pete will retain the services of Minneapolis attorney Corey Ayling, according to the Tampa Tribune.

Ayling helped Minneapolisa fight off any Twins relocation/contraction about a decade ago, and St. Pete is reportedly hoping to lean on his experience...just in case.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Dunedin Courts Brewers Spring Training

Earlier this year, the State of Florida announced $5 million in state money available annually to any municipality willing to put up matching funds for spring training stadium construction.

And while it has prompted several Florida municipalities to compete against each other to offer monster stadium subsidies to teams that may not have otherwise considered leaving Florida, it will also make it easier for the Sunshine State to steal teams away from Arizona.

The Phoenix Business Journal reports the Brewers, who have played the spring training stadium subsidy game before, are entertaining offers in Dunedin, Fla., which soon could lose the Blue Jays:
Somewhat surprisingly, a top Brewers executive did not deny the possibility the club would consider Florida.

“We are reviewing all of our options and have not ruled anything out at this point,” Bob Quinn, the Brewers executive vice president of finance and administration, told me via email late Monday.
(The team's recent contract extension) allows the Brewers to terminate the lease if the city of Phoenix does not make improvements the team has demanded to the athletic training facilities, office and clubhouse, according to MLB.com.

The Blue Jays’ contract with Dunedin expires in 2017 and the team has signed a letter of intent to move to Palm Beach Gardens on Florida’s east coast when a new stadium is built there, the Tampa Bay Business Journal reports.
Four years ago, I criticized a Tampa Tribune editorial that sensationalized Grapefruit League flight.  I even suggested Florida could pick up a team by courting the Brewers.  But I also wrote that Ft. Myers' City of Palms Park, former home of the Red Sox, would be the state's top option for a new team.

So don't be surprised if Lee Co. and Pinellas Co. eventually duke it out over which one can offer more money to court the Brewers.  And don't be surprsied if its all just a ploy by the team to get Phoenix to pay for some major upgrades.

After all, Florida's stadium earmarks will ensure MLB - a $9 billion business - will never again have to pay for any real spring training stadium costs.

I hope to have some more next week when the Winter Meetings return to Orlando, Fla.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Rays Release Renovation Plans

Since there's no point in doing the same job twice, why don't we just rely on some tweets from today's press conference unveiling the Rays' plans for stadium renovations, including a 360-degree concourse around the stadium?
(More pictures posted over on the Shadow of a Stadium Twitter page)
There were plenty of "lipstick on a pig" comments across the Twitterverse, but these improvements make a lot of sense.  The Rays wouldn't say how much they're contributing on top of the $1.3 million from a city/team capital improvement escrow fund, other than "seven digits," bringing the total sum the team has spent on Tropicana Field renovations sinc 2005 to more than $20 million.

But not only will fans enjoy the improvements, the team will as well:
Fans in the outfield, who used to have to really hike around the park to get a beer, will now be able to just walk next door to the Captain Morgan-sponsored party deck.  Hopefully area taxis will benefit too.

The Rays also announced new ticket and concession discounts for fans {link to Times' story} and seems to be doing everything possible to increase their attendance (and revenue) at The Trop.
The big question: is it enough to reverse the decline previously identified as a "self-fulfilling prophecy?"

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Times Starts Cranking Up Pressure on Kriseman

St. Petersburg Mayor-Elect Rick Kriseman hasn't even assumed office yet but the editorial board for the Tampa Bay Times is making sure he knows a new Rays stadium is high on their priorities for his first 100 days.

A Sunday editorial titled, "On Rays, no time to waste," makes some decent points about how transit plans, bed tax contributions, and future development are all impacted by whether a new stadium is built (and where).

But in its attempts to direct Kriseman's handling of the delicate issue, the editorial board makes a few bold assumptions:
Every year that ticks off the Tampa Bay Rays' lease to play at Tropicana Field reduces leverage for St. Petersburg and makes it more likely the team could leave the region.
Yes, every year that goes by means fewer damages the Rays would presumably owe St. Pete for breaking its contract early.  But every year that goes by also means one extra guaranteed year of Rays baseball in St. Pete and Tampa Bay.  Is that a bad thing?

Furthermore, if the editorial board assumes all teams want to leave their stadiums when their contracts expire (actually, a decent hypothesis), shouldn't it be just as concerned about the Lightning possibly leaving in 2026?  Or the Bucs possibly leaving in 2028 for Los Angeles, London, or who knows where else?

(Not to mention, for the hundreth time, the Rays have a use agreement, not a lease)

The editorial also had this puzzling paragraph:
The economic rebound could stall, making it harder to allocate public money for a stadium and for the Rays to attract more fans. Deals for new stadiums across the country could be difficult for Tampa Bay to match. A new baseball commissioner could change the conversation in a way that hurts this region's effort to keep major-league baseball.
In one fell swoop, the Times makes the case that:
  1. Tampa Bay should consider public subsidies for a stadium now in case the economy sputters and we can't afford them later.
  2. Other cities that want baseball wouldn't be affected by the same sputtering economy.
  3. A new baseball commissioner could be even more "frustrated," "disappointed," and "concerned" than Bud Selig over the team's contract through 2027 and its inability to negotiate out of it.
In the previous paragraph, the Times also acknowledged that - given a choice - voters would likely object to stadium subsidies.  Yet, it has staked a clear position now that public subsidies should be on the table for a Downtown Tampa stadium.

The Times has also backed off any pressure on the Rays to compensate St. Pete for breaking its contract early, as well as for the Rays to "open their books" to actually demonstrate a financial need.