Friday, December 19, 2014

Why a St. Pete Deal with the Rays May Just Be a Happy Holidays Away

This evening, I took a look for WTSP-TV at how realistic it was for St. Pete to strike a deal with the Rays in 2015 (hint: pretty good).

It's something I actually wrote about last week, after Stu Sternberg implied the team was done negotiating.

Councilman Karl Nurse, who was one of three yes votes on the deal, said he was frustrated with how the Rays handled questions about redevelopment money in their final year or two at The Trop.  It wasn't mentioned in the deal Mayor Rick Kriseman negotiated with the team.

This should be a tiny issue the team would be happy to renegotiate...but team president Brian Auld said the team wasn't making any changes and council could "take it or leave it."  We know what happened next.

But Nurse said he felt a holiday "cooling off" period would convince the mayor and Rays to get back to work and address the few least to the point where two councilmembers would feel comfortable to flip their "no" votes to "yes."

Check out the full story video here.


  1. Sternberg must live with his statements.

    Here are 4 scenarios the first one is the one proposed but there are 3 more scenarios that need to be considered based on this article.

    Sternberg, however, has already declared that he won’t negotiate any more changes to the lease buyout, saying last week, “If it doesn’t pass, we’re doomed to leave.” This kind of paints him into a corner, with his only obvious options being:

    1. Try to pretend he never said anything about no further negotiations, and quietly resume talks in a few months. This would not only require swallowing a lot of pride at this point, but also leave him with a weakened negotiating position, since clearly his ultimatums wouldn’t be worth squat.

    2. Sit tight and wait — if not 13 years, then at least for a new city council to be elected next fall. And then hope like crazy that the new folks are more willing to give you anything you want.

    3. Sell the team and make it someone else’s problem. Forbes, which tends to underestimate team values, has the Rays worth $485 million, which would be a nifty 142% profit on what Sternberg bought them for in 2002. But presumably the Rays would be worth an awful lot more if they had a shiny new stadium to play in (especially if the shiny new stadium debt could be fobbed off on taxpayers), so Sternberg would be leaving a lot of hypothetical money on the hypothetical table if he took this route.

    4. Call Bud Selig and ask him to threaten to blow up the team on his way out the door, and hope that the courts will protect them from the inevitable antitrust lawsuit that would result.

  2. Another very interesting comment in this article. It is clear that the Rays are skeptical that the region can support their team.

    "But so was when Amy Foster grilled Auld about the team’s commitment to the Tampa Bay region. “One of the things that I heard loud and clear from Brian Auld today is that you want to stay here, you want to stay in the region, and that you’re committed to this,” Foster said. “But one of the things you said to me in my office is you’re still not sure that this region will work out. And I’d like to hear a little bit more about that.”"

  3. Only 8 persons show up in front of the council members to share their opinion and 4 of them were against the MOU. What else need to be said? Oh yeah, the thousands remaining fans were in front of their TVs! That's why the TV rights are so valuable!

  4. Noah,

    I watched the video, and I disagree with how you said no city in North America is anywhere close to "poaching [the Rays] away anytime soon."

    You posted on Nov 4 a report from Montreal that some business people up there had $200 million ready to go. I read on that the names of these investors had been leaked.

    These people (Stephen Bronfman, Larry Rossy, Mitch Garber), are all heavy hitters. Wikipedia says Rossy and the Bronfman's each have a higher net worth than Stu Sternberg. Bell is also part of this group wanting in on ownership of a ball club, and Bell is apparently the largest telecommunications company in Canada.

    There was a big deal made for nothing when 96,000 were in attendance for 2 exhibition games in Montreal; but the Blue Jays are going back in 2015.

    If 90,000+ keep showing up for the next 2-3 years, and little progress is made on the Rays' stadium search, is it unreasonable to believe that Bell and these Montreal billionaires will pony up the rest of the money necessary to purchase and move the Rays?

    Their bios seem to indicate they have the capacity to do so. A few more years of this stadium nonsense, a few more years of folks in Montreal showing up in large numbers to Spring Training games, and I have no doubt this Montreal group will be a serious threat.

    If we have 2-3 more yeas like 2014 (no stadium progress, a disappointing team, and 96,000 in Montreal), things will look really bad in my opinion. I really think you are discounting what is going on up in Montreal. To me they are more than just a boogeyman.

    1. The investors so far (because more are still evaluation their decision) are Stephen Bronfman, Bell, Larry Rossy (CEO of Dollorama) and Mitch Garber (CEO of Caesars Acquisition Company).

      Also, Bell Media lost the Hockey TV rights in Canada for 12 years. The value of this contract was $5.2B. So Bell Media need to feed TSN/RDS sports TV stations and radio stations with contents across Canada. Rogers, that got the NHL TV rights in Canada already own the Toronto Blue Jays, the Maple Leafs (NHL) and the Raptors (NBA), all in Toronto. So they have a big opportunity to buy sports content to feed their network and make sure their asset is still valuable for years to come.

      So with a Canadian dollar that will fluctuate between 0.90$ and 1.10$ (it will never drop under 0.70$ in the future, the Canadian economy changed a lot since 1980-1990) and revenue sharing in the MLB, all the conditions are there for Montreal to get a new team.

      Stay Tuned!

    2. So you're banking on 2-3 years of inaction in Tampa Bay, enough legal action to allow the Rays to leave, and hundreds of millions of dollars to come out of the woodwork in Montreal.

      As I said, no city is close to poaching the Rays anytime soon. Lots of time to fix the situation here.

    3. I agree, it's not for tomorrow.

      However, I really think that there are too many roadblocks in TB to make it happen. I don't believe to last minute solutions.

      Sternberg said with no deal, he will sell. If he's backing-up and start negotiating again, then I agree with you, he was bluffing.

      If he sell the team to a group out of Montreal, I agree, the team will stay in TB.

      But if sell the team to a group with shareholders from MTL, then, the team will move.

    4. Yes Noah,

      I don't see what makes the above assumptions so crazy. think it's very possible the following could happen each of the next 2-3 years:

      1. the Rays field a non-playoff team after the moves they made this offseason.
      2. weak team produces low attendance figures
      2. Montreal has 96,000 come for just 2 days/year
      3. No stadium progress is made; we've had 6-7 years of this already...
      4. Montreal business people see the exhibition game attendance and the Rays stadium situation, and decide to put in more money

      In regards to hundreds of millions of public dollars, what is the difference between Tampa, and Montreal? Why would it be easier for Tampa and Florida to produce hundreds of millions of public dollars than for Montreal and Quebec?

      Both cities need a huge amount of public taxpayer money to lure the Rays, and what makes us more likely to have this money than Montreal? And with Jeffrey Loria's stadium controversy, I see Floridians being weary of taxpayer-funded stadiums.

    5. You've got one thing right....there seem to be many many many roadblocks in the way here in TB and a decade from now, the team may be gone.

  5. I'll be at the Big "O" for the Jays vs Reds game and it seems that it will be sold out based on the comments by the Mayor Coderre in Montreal (interview last friday). Sold-out means more than 96 000!

    Regarding MTL, stay tuned. Yes the investors are ready and have plenty of money. Yes, the E&Y study demonstrate the viability of the MTL market with an average of 27 000 to 31 000 fans per game with a downtown stadium. The study/business plan will be updated in 2015.

    The stadium downtown is under review (the site will be confirmed, near the water based on the mayor comments), the financing with the private sector is still under discussion/negotioation (see Dominic Therrien approach, see the fact that the Big "O" need a new roof of $400M and one scenario is to reuse the new roof money to finance a new baseball stadium and maybe use the Big "O" for events without a roof which is a realistic scenario considering the Big "O" did not had a roof for many years in the 70s).

    The investors and MBP (Montreal Baseball Project) is planing a new round of meetings with Manfred and some MLB teams owner to update them on the process and make sure the plan is solid and ready to be submitted when a team will be available.

    So I 100% agree, MTL is in process to get a baseball team, no matter if it's the Rays, another team (like Cleveland) or an expansion one. The city on Montreal will be ready in 2015-2016 to accept a team by 2020.

    1. Again, Puerto Rico sold out a bunch of games a few years ago too. So did Orlando. Doesn't mean they're viable relocation sites for MLB.

      But MLB would love nothing more than Montreal to try and land a would make their stadium game much easier to play in 30 other cities!

    2. And I forgot. The Montreal Mayor announced that a Baseball Plan will be released soon. The plan is to invest in the baseball parcs in the city to increase the baseball payers base, they will also build/enhanced 2 baseball fields in order to have official baseball fields for national and international competitions/tournaments.

      So it's not only a dream with studies/analysis/plans. It's a complete strategy with actions, budgets, tangibles actions in order to invest in Baseball (and other sports, University Football in the next big investment).

      I was against the election of the Denis Coderre as the mayor original but I can only say that I'm impressed. He's not only speaking publicly, but we are seing real actions, decisions that are well planned for the development of the city (sports, economy, urban development, mass transit, ...).

    3. Comparing Montreal to Puerto Rico makes sense to you, or are you just playing the straw man.

      The sold out exhibition games in Montreal, show the Montreal fans support of an MLB team. Too many in MLB remember the ugly apathetic crowds after a MLB strike poisoned their World Series drive. Forgetting the great crowds in the early 80's. Montreal with transit, large corporate base, non-transient population with disposable income, and a better history of attendance figures than the Rays are definitely a threat. Only a fool would cast a comparison to Puerto Rico.

    4. @David
      Noah thinks Montreal is just some city like Charlotte or San Antonio whose name is thrown around to scare taxpayers. FOR NOW that may be true, but Montreal is a lot more legit than such cities. There have been developments there that place Montreal as a serious threat in the coming years. I havent heard of exhibition games in San Antonio or Charlotte recently, nor have I heard of potential owners from those cities (things that exist in Montreal). And the fact that these developments havent gotten much coverage here in the US makes me think that one day, when every one finally realizes Montreal was serious, the Rays will already be on their way to Quebec.

      If you want to argue that Montreal has no stadium, well that puts them on par with Tampa. Comparing Montreal to Puerto Rico is ridiculous and ignorant.

    5. It's a tongue-in-cheek comparison, David, for any city in North America would likely sell out two games given the opportunity.

      And to commenter No. 2 - you are right - for now, that's all Montreal is - a boogeyman to scare Tampa Bay (and other cities)

    6. The best part is that Montreal has gone from "a snowball's chance in hell" to "boogeyman" in a relatively short amount of time. Much shorter than this stadium issue's duration. With presentations to MLB being prepared by Montreal reps, and a seemingly never ending stadium issue for the Rays, one has to wonder how much longer MLB will stand idly by.

    7. Expect Manfred to give an update of his view of the TB market and the Rays attendance situation in 2015. What about in he week of April 6th, just after the Jays vs Reds game in the Big "O" in Montreal!