Friday, November 7, 2014

Times Suggests Amending Rays' Ironclad Contract Because Team Could Use a Pick-Me-Up

I had just asked the administration in St. Pete last week if any documents or notes had been drafted yet on the stadium negotiations, for in Florida, they would be public record.  I was told they are not.

That means that Mayor Rick Kriseman is being extremely careful (understandably) to avoid creating public records, and/or he isn't as close to amending the Rays' stadium contract as many would believe.

Maybe that's why the Tampa Bay Times just cranked out another "Time to break Rays stadium stalemate" editorial {link to Times' site}.  The board contends allowing team's ability to search for stadium sites in Hillsborough County would reverse the trend of negative news this offseason:
Kriseman recognizes that it is not in the best interest of city and county taxpayers to cling to the status quo. Every week that passes without a deal is a week that ticks off the Tropicana Field lease and weakens the city's hand.
(Every week that passes is also an extra week of the region enjoying the team's benefits without forking over extra dollars.  Should we replace Raymond James Stadium now too under the same logic?   I digress...)
The Rays are not going to be playing in the outdated Trop when their lease expires in 2027, and there will come a point when the team could calculate it makes more financial sense to break the lease than keep drawing small crowds and waiting for a new stadium.
When Kriseman campaigned, he indicated he'd get a deal done quickly.  But as I wrote at the time, he was about to learn how difficult protecting the city's interests would be...and how the newspaper would eventually turn on him

It's now been 11 months...and the Times is losing patience.
The Oakland A's recently signed a stadium lease extension, moving the Rays to the top of the short list of teams with stadium issues.
Fearmongering.  The A's can still opt out of their "new" lease in 2017.  The Rays' use agreement runs through 2027.  There was little done to satisfy MLB's demands for a new ballpark in California, and there was little done to make the Rays' situation any more pressing than it was a year ago.
The real pressure to break the stadium impasse is from external forces in Tampa Bay. In Pinellas County, other interests are eyeing the resort tax money that will become available when Tropicana Field bonds are paid off next year. That revenue stream would be needed to help pay for any new stadium in Pinellas. In Hillsborough County, Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik is moving forward with his downtown Tampa development plans and shows no interest in making room for a baseball stadium. Potential revenue streams that could pay for a new stadium in Hillsborough also are being looked at for other uses. Tampa Bay development is moving forward as the stadium issue stands still, and options will be foreclosed by inaction.
The editorial board is right on revenue streams potentially drying up.  But in the 2020s, new revenue streams - both public and from MLB - will open up.  So the situation may not be quite as dire as described.

Instead of pushing Mayor Kriseman to give in to the team's demands, maybe the paper should go back to advocating the Rays demonstrate a financial need for assistance first?

A brief history of Times editorials on the Stadium Saga:
The history goes further back than that, but for a good synopsis, watch my 2010 piece on newspapers cheerleading for new stadium projects.


  1. Hi Noah,

    You state "But in the 2020s, new revenue streams - both public and from MLB - will open up"
    What are these new revenue streams?

    1. TV money for MLB; tax commitments that are paid of publicly.

  2. If the Rays broke the Trop lease today, how much would they have to pay St. Pete?

    1. They would end up in court and it would likely get costly.