Monday, February 10, 2014

Times Dashes Hopes of Vinik Stadium Dreamers

If the feedback on this site is any indication, there is a large number of Rays fans hoping Lightning owner Jeffrey Vinik, Rays owner Stu Sternberg, and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn have a secret room filled with beautiful renderings for a new baseball stadium.  Of course, these secret plans come with secret financing too.

But my repeated warnings aside, the Tampa Bay Times wrote a comprehensive analysis this weekend that should all but end the conspiracy theories that the Stadium Saga will magically work itself out:
Might Vinik offer up a big chunk of real estate so Sternberg can have a new home?

In recent interviews with the Tampa Bay Times, Mayor Bob Buckhorn expressed doubts.
A quick summary:
  • Moving the Rays to Tampa could hurt Lightning attendance because the immediate Tampa metro may not have enough businesses & disposable income for three pro teams.
  • A stadium that hosts 81 games a year may not be the highest-and-best use of valuable downtown land that could otherwise host entertainment, commercial, or residential facilities.
  • "Mid-sized market teams typically pay little or no rent to the stadium owner," re-emphacizing the concept that those who pay for stadiums seldom profit from them.
  • 81 baseball games a year could create scheduling conflicts in an already-congested downtown.
  • One of Tampa's biggest opportunities for downtown synergy is by replacing the ConAgra flour mill will with something that drives more economy.
Actually, a lot of those suggestions overlap with this Oct '12 post:
Also interesting - in addition to the $400-$600 million cost of a stadium and the possible $50-$100 million cost to compensate St. Pete for the remaining years of its contract - the Times reports that acquiring the ConAgra site could cost the city "$60 million to $80 million, a big add-on to a stadium."

There was also another clarification on Hillsborough Commissioner Ken Hagan's "no public dollars" for a stadium pledge.  The Times article states the conservative Republican now says general revenue dollars for a stadium (via a CRA/TIF) could be justified "as long as it did not lead to new property taxes."

Meanwhile, there has been few public comments from Vinik, who is still seen as the knight in shining armor who could help move the Rays to Tampa.  A minority owner of the Red Sox, Vinik just seems to be more focused on making Channelside and Channelside Bay Plaza into a year-round entertainment & event center than he does focused on anything to do with baseball.

Oh, and lets not forget St. Pete still hasn't given the Rays permission to talk to Tampa about stadium seems mayor Rick Kriseman is trying to meet up with Sternberg to chat this week.

The best long-term resolution to replacing Tropicana Field still remains a regional, multi-county effort that would minamalize the financial impact to taxpayers by spreading it out across a large base.  Of course, that is only if taxpayers decided helping to finance a stadium was in their best interests...and if only turning "modest" profits in the seven-to-eight-figure range annually really is a "problem" to begin with.


  1. Don’t yinz think it’s funny of all the speculation over the Rays moving, I do. It’s hard to think that “one of the smartest front offices in all of sports” have been sitting back, and not figuring anything about a billion dollar or so move simply because St. Pete says so. Like I been saying for years, it's easy to believe the Rays & Tampa has it all figured out with blueprints, location (ConAgra Foods spot), funding, etc. behind the scenes. And maybe St. Pete knows to, maybe they just haven’t went public about it either for their own benefit. The Rays seem to be using the move for good PR, while making more $ staying at the Trop w/ it’s new “360″ invested construction, while saving up to move, which gives Channelside some time to fill in w/ all it’s current & projected condos and gives places like Wesley Chapel & Riverview time to grow along w/ i275 widening, while the buyout from St.Pete gets cheaper by the year, and lets not forget about TV money down the road. All & all, if you think outside the media box, it’s not hard to figure, besides financial elitist like Stu & Jeff, and progressive politicians like in Tampa do what they want regardless of anything else…

    1. Sounds like annalist that wouldn't be thought of by "narrow Noah". lol