Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Fallout From Rays "Imminent" Deal - Day 1

As with every hint of any stadium news, sportstalk lines blew up yesterday.  Can't say I heard many new intelligent opinions infused into the conversation, but I'll share one interview here - WDAE's Steve Duemig chatting with St. Pete Councilman Bill Dudley.

"We have taxpayers who have footed the bill for Tropicana Field," Dudley said, "and we have a responsibility for protecting their interests."

Now, Duemig suggested the responsibility ends in 2017, when the city finishes paying its portion of the stadium, and for some reason, Dudley agreed.  But I'm pretty sure Dudley was simply indicating that's when the payments cease - it doesn't actually end the city's responsibility for protecting the contract it negotiated.

We know the Rays think St. Pete owes them a free pass on escaping the contract, but remember - THEY SIGNED THAT CONTRACT!  And remember this too:
If St. Pete had paid for the Trop in up-front cash instead of taking out bonds, would their financial interests be over the day the doors opened?  Of course not.

So at the end of the day, debt service isn't directly tied to how much value remains in the city's contract with the Rays.

Duemig and Dudley also reminded listeners how good the ingress/egress is at the Trop, and traffic for a Tampa stadium could be considerably worse without transit.  I mean, have you ever tried to take I-275 into Tampa via Malfunction Junction or the Howard Frankland at 6 p.m.?

Duemig also brought up one of my favorite misunderstandings of the Stadium great it would be to put the Tropicana Field land back on the city & county tax rolls.

To which, I always respond with, "if the land in St. Pete would be more valuable as something other than baseball, wouldn't the same go for land in Tampa?"

Other times progress on the Stadium Saga was "near" or "imminent":
September 2014 | August 2013July 2013 | July 2012June 2010


  1. I'm wondering if Sternberg raised any issues with MLB regarding the contract with St. Pete at his time of purchase. Really he's in this position because MLB allowed the Naimoli to sign such a long term lease. Just think if it was a 20 year commitment, which would have been a reasonable, this would be a non-issue.

    Granted at the time of the deal in 95, the stadium boom hadn't really taken off, and by comparison to Veterans Stadium, Three Rivers, Cinergy, Astrodome, Comiskey, Shea, Jack Murphy, Candlestick, the big O, Busch II, Arlington, Kingdome, Municipal stadium, metrodome, the stadium probably seemed fine. What MLB didn't count on was a ridiculous 15 year stretch of stadium development based on the success of Camden and Jacobs field, that left the Trop as 1 of 2 remaining stadium eyesores.

    Its almost like dropping a ton of coin on an awesome state-of-the-art horse buggy, 2 months before the automobile went into mass production, and you're trying to convince yourself that your horse drawn buggy is still fine.

    But I digress, I do wonder if Sternberg came to any agreement with MLB about what to do about the contract with St. Pete. Ie. He'll tow the party line, try to work with the city to get out of the contract, but whatever penalty needs to be covered in part by MLB. Or maybe that was just the cost of joining the lodge in the first place.

    1. David, we can assure there were lots of discussions behind-the-scenes, but in 2010, Sternberg admitted they misjudged the situation and assumed winning would get people to cross a bridge. He was wrong.

      So he finds himself stuck in a position that MLB - then he - negotiated. Only in MLB can you make a bad business decision, still turn a profit, then complain its not enough.

      You're even saying the only reason the Trop isn't good enough is because everyone else has new ballparks. So is it the location or the ballpark? It may be both, and if MLB wants to remedy the situation, it has plenty of money to do so. But maybe it shouldn't be the taxpayers' problem.

    2. "Re: Trop not good enough", I also likened it to be the proud owner of a perfectly good horse buggy in the age of the automobile. Or the last house to get electricity or indoor plumbing. The MLB world changed and teams have to change accordingly.

      One other big change in MLB since the early 90s is the reliance on corporate support/sponsorship for teams. The Yankees spent $1B new stadium just to get more money out of corporate sponsors, fully accepting that they alienated some of their fanbase. The stadium boom is largely about maximizing corporate support. You can keep yelling at the wind about how unfair it is, but it is the reality.

      I wouldn't be shocked to see MLB actually doubting the entire Florida market, because of the lack of available corporate support. When franchises were granted to Miami, and St. Pete it was pretty much an afterthought. Now its at the forefront. Saying how its not fair, or it was fine for 1989 doesn't change the fact that it doesn't fit today. Just like if someone tried to merge onto the interstate on his shiny horse and buggy.

      You once likened yourself to Marine Layer from, but its pretty clear you're more like a Florida-focused Neil deMause.

      Personally when it comes to taxpayers. I find it very rare that savings go back to the taxpayer. The government always finds something to spend it on, and a lot those causes wouldn't be something I'd prioritize. So while I do think there is something fundamentally wrong with money helping what is essentially a private entity, it is an entity I care about and support. Also I know its something that if Tampa isn't willing to support, they will find the support they want somewhere else.

      In the ladi-da world of make believe where no city is willing to contribute to a baseball stadium with tax dollars, I'd support St. Pete holding firm. But this is reality where some other city eventually will, and now I'm not sure if the team wouldn't be better off in Montreal.

    3. You're right on most accounts. I suspect MLB seriously doubts Florida as well...but would be happy to stay if they get a sweet new stadium deal.

      You're also right that corporate dollars make all the difference, but is the spread-out Tampa market enough to support three teams properly? Not at this time, it seems...but hopefully in the future.

  2. Glad you are concerned about taxpayer money. Where is your blog on the federal government's waste of taxpayer money?

    1. Here ya go - may like these:

    2. So because one entity needlessly wastes money then it's okay for other entities to do it as well? Wow, you are obviously having a rectal-cranial-inversion at this moment.

    3. Where do you see me advocating for wasting money?

    4. That was meant for "Anonymous's" comment...

  3. Lol, Steve Duemig's sophomoric "commentary" about economic topics would be hilarious if it wasn't so pathetic. He sums up his knowledge pertaining to economic understanding based on his analogy that, "If taxpayers build the stadium, it's a good thing because it free's up money for the owners to spend on player's.".......So succinct, so brilliant. I think he really believes that he is on to something....