Thursday, December 4, 2014

Twitter Battle: Shadow of the Stadium vs. Canadian Reporter

I took to Twitter this week to disprove a Canadian reporter's assumptions about the Rays' Stadium Saga. The short version of our exchanges:


  1. While I agree with most of what you said. You're still seriously discounting the viability of the Montreal market. Reasons why the Expos moved:
    - little/no revenue sharing meant couldn't keep anyone
    - Canadian dollar slid to 0.70 on the dollar
    - terrible out dated stadium and the city wouldn't contribute to a new one
    - no $ for TV rights

    Note how everything has changed, except potentially the most important one about public funding for a new stadium. But since the Quebec gov't has been throwing money around like sailors on shore leave, there is a good chance some funding would become available.

    The revenue sharing in place makes the Rays look like Daddy Warbucks compared to when the Expos left. Its still probably not enough, but it has been trending the right direction through the CBA.

    Another big shift since the 90's is the increased importance of corporate support and sponsorships, which Montreal would hold a significant advantage to the TB market.

    While media mogul Bell got shut out on NHL content by Rogers (who owns the Jays), and is desperate for content for their sports networks. I'd fully expect either Bell or Quebecor, to be a big reason behind any baseball franchise moving to Montreal.

    Ask yourself, why TB is so special. I don't think Sternberg is trying to move the team in Montreal. But he'd be a fool to not consider it. Apparently Montreal business owners have met with MLB officials. Obviously MLB is doing their due diligence, successfully hosted an outstanding exhibition series last year and are doing so again. I think this is more than lip service, and trying to drum up a paper stadium boogeyman. Sternberg doesn't even have to talk to Montreal officials. Montreal officials need to make their case to MLB, either to relocate a team or be part of the next expansion. I have little doubt that MLB would like to reach 32 teams at some point. Likely 15-20 years down the road, and after TB and Oakland have straightened themselves out.

    But if in the mean time, if Montreal gets its ducks in a row. Gets local business owners lined up to be either part owners, while lobbying the gov't into some kind of financial commitment to a new stadium. While St. Pete clings to the $20-40M penalty they'll be demanding from the Rays to break the lease, It won't offer them much protection from the prospects of the Montreal market. All it does is offer protection from the Rays exploring the Tampa market for a future stadium site, or lobbying for gov't funding in Tampa or at the state level. Montreal can investigate stadium sites, and even try to line up public funding without ever even engaging the Rays directly, they just need to report through MLB. And if the numbers come up right. I'm sure Sternberg would look to jump ship.

    Another thing I realized. When the Expos moved, they were in the NL East with no significant regional rival. If they replaced the Rays in the AL East, and the unbalanced schedules remained. 9 home games against NYY, BOS, and TOR would cause a huge inflation in attendance. NY and BOS are 5 hours away and have the largest traveling fan base in baseball. And with a natural regional rival in TOR, it would be a huge attendance advantage the Expos never had. Philly fans and Mets fans just don't/didn't swarm into cities the way Yankee and Sox fans do.

    I think St. Pete has got to start looking at the Rays as a regional asset. My first recommendation would be to allow the Rays to investigate the region for stadium possibilities without penalty (or nominal), but negotiate a more significant penalty if the team left the region altogether.=.

  2. The lack of revenue sharing is the same problem the Rays currently face (as Montreal still would). It's still a problem league-wide. Fix that, Tampa Bay looks a whole lot better!

    You are right MTL holds a corporate advantage over TB, but not sure if the television dollars would be enough of an improvement to make up for what the Blue Jays would have to be compensated for giving up part of their current broadcast market.

    Your recommendation "to allow the Rays to investigate the region...without penalty (or nominal), but negotiate a more significant penalty if the team left the region altogether" is a great idea. We believe its been offered. But we have no indication the team is interested in that kind of deal.

    And I wouldn't hold my breath for 32 teams. Adding two new smallish markets only continues to divert revenues away from the biggest, richest teams...which is supposedly the reason Tampa Bay's market is inadequate in the first place!

    1. Noah, if revenue sharing is still a problem, why havent there been any lock outs or talks of labor disputes like in 94? revenue sharing is no longer a problem. the lack of better sharing is an inconvenience for smaller market teams, but it in no way threatens the existence of a ball club like it did in the 90s. to say the 2 eras are the same when it comes to revenue sharing is ridiculous.

      a team today could have NOBODY come to any of the 81 games all season and still make money if their payroll was $70M. teams make about that much from the national TV deals (ESPN, TBS, FOX) already, if im not mistaken. you have said yourself that the rays are profitable, thats why teams never open their books even if they want a new stadium. so you cant possibly say the rays suffer as much as the expos and other 90s teams did when it comes to revenue sharing

  3. But there is revenue sharing right now. Just not that much. Its still significantly more than for the Expos. The 94 strike was about established nominal revenue sharing. It was increased and luxury taxes and penalty taxes were later added. If you think the Rays have it tough now in terms of revenue sharing, its light years beyond what the Expos had. That 94 strike was what crippled that market.

    In terms of holding my breath about 32 teams. I wouldn't expect it for 20 years. I do think Montreal is positioned to be the strongest possibility. No city other city has stepped up to where I think they'd provide a decent option. Portland, Austin, Raleigh, would seem like the best options, but they're not very good, but in 20 years, that could change. Plus the other fallback market would be NY area. Whether its north NJ or Brooklyn, a 3rd team there would barely make a dent for the Yankees. Obviously that would be tough logistically, but the region used to have 3 teams so there is a certain precedent there.

    Regarding the markets. I do think given the current economic environment the team would be better off in Montreal, but its not exactly a slam dunk, and I think St. Pete/Tampa, is squandering its chance of keeping the team long term, by clinging to the term of use contract.

    You mentioned moving other teams. I assumed you were being sarcastic. Given NYM would be fixed by an ownership change. HOU has a quite a large market that has drawn well when they had teams worth watching. And MIA, which I'm with you, skeptical about them in the long term, but their shinny new stadium bought them 20 years of not having to look over their shoulder.

  4. Also regarding the compensation to the Jays for the broadcast rights. Rogers has owned the Jays since 2000. When the Expos still split the Canadian market with them. Its not like the Jays compensated the Expos for the rest of the Canadian market when they moved. It would be a very strange discussion to see them demand significant compensation to re-establish their previous agreement (not that I'd put it past them). Where this type of thing gets tricky is when there are ownership changes, where money has exchanged hands based on things like TV rights. So I wouldn't anticipate the regional TV rights being a stumbling block.

  5. Expo-necrophillia on display, mostly grasping at straws
    except for MLB shying away from franchise moves - especially out of the country.
    A 3rd franchise in the NYC market would be fought tooth and nail by the Mets/Yanks and Phils. They have no business interest in cutting up the revenue pie into smaller shares.

    1. Getting a lot of mileage on the ol' Expos Necrophilia term.