Saturday, December 20, 2014

Rays Continue to (Mostly) Get a Free Pass from Local Press

Last week, I wrote how the Rays were playing hardball against St. Pete...a strategy that ultimately (and narrowly) backfired on least for now.

After the city voted down their proposal to look at stadium sites in Tampa, there are signs the Rays may be willing to re-negotiate after I explained as soon as the non-threat threat was issued by team owner Stu Sternberg:
Several reports and columns indicated how St. Pete's council may have avoided a great catastrophe (or at least a great loss) by bringing up the issue of redevelopment rights and asking the Rays to work with them.  The team indicated it would not alter that aspect of its contract.

Yet the only real criticisms in print - including from both the Times and Trib editorial boards - continue to be of St. Petersburg's elected officials, who took a stand in an attempt to defend their city.

Sometimes, I scratch my head why so many people are so convinced St. Pete is the problem in these negotiations - doesn't it take two parties to fail to compromise?
It's been more than three years since the Times last called on the Rays to do as much as open their books and demonstrate an actual need for a new ballpark.  But since then...nada.

Which is why it was nice to see Joe Henderson's column in the Trib today suggesting the Rays made a "blunder" this week in front of council.  However, he also indicated it was important for both sides to be willing to make further compromises:
I think Auld, a bright man, would like to hit the reset button.

Some council members grumped about Auld’s arrogance for arguing the city has to abide by the lease his organization wants to break, and they have a point.
The story would likely be much different this morning if Auld had said, “Hey, you know, that development rights thing is something we can absolutely talk about going forward. We want to do right by the city that has been our home.”
This was after Sternberg recently turned what should have been a good day into a threat to have the Rays leave the area. When St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman announced he had reached a tentative deal to let the Rays look in Hillsborough County, Sternberg’s response was that the team is “doomed to leave” without a new stadium. 

So, I can’t really blame the city council for getting its ego bruised, or for voting 5-3 to reject the deal Kriseman and the Rays put on the table.

But now everyone needs to take a deep breath.

Everything is negotiable.

Get back to the table.

Get this done.
The Rays, St. Pete, and local editorial boards need to recognize this is a two-way street and any failure to compromise is a shared responsibility.


  1. Noah, you've tweeted how Stu is a businessman and it wouldnt make sense for him to sell without a new stadium, he wouldnt get a high value for his team. but why would a businessman put up with this stupid st. pete council that has kept him in the Trop without compromise since he bought the team. since he purchased the Rays theres been little to no stadium progress. why would a businessman continue putting up with this and continue trying what hasnt worked in the past? they are not staying at the Trop until 2027, thats for sure

    1. The status quo is not acceptable for the Rays. This is why Sternberg did continue to negotiate, he's tied to the Use Agreement.

      However, once the negotiation process fail (or when the new stadium process fail), then, Sternberg can go back to the MLB and say he did everything he can. Then and only then the MLB can start being more active and find a solution elsewhere.

      That's my understanding of the situation.

    2. He puts up with the St. Pete negotiations because he has to. Throwing his hands up and selling low makes no sense.

      If he truly doesn't want to deal with the Rays anymore - and the profits that come with owning the team - he can sell. But it would make more sense for him to sell with hope of a new stadium still possible....rather than sell when it appears nothing is possible.

      Also, don't assume St. Pete hasn't made compromises....we don't have many indications of which side is more responsible for the frustrating stalemate.