Friday, January 30, 2015

Manfred Says Rays-to-Montreal Rumors Blown Out of Proportion

According to Tampa Tribune sportswriter Roger Mooney, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred pointed out today exactly what I said yesterday: the Trib's Thursday fearmongering headline was entirely out of context:
“Let me be clear about my comments about Montreal,” Manfred said, “I was asked about what I thought about the exhibition games that were played in Montreal. I did not raise Montreal at all and I certainly did not raise it in the context of talking about any franchise that was trying to get a stadium deal done. I want to be clear about that. What I said about Montreal, I said as a general comment that I think it is good for the game when you have cities that don’t have baseball that demonstrate their interest in the game by doing things like selling 90,000 tickets to two exhibition games. It is an indication of the overall health of the sport. That’s all I said. Nothing more, nothing less.”
Manfred's comments - which included “I think with the right facility Tampa Bay can be a vibrant major league market,” were repeated to the Tampa Bay Times as well.  He added that he was "encouraged" by Rays owner Stu Sternberg's optimism about Tampa Bay.

ALSO SEE: Trib Says, "Economists Be Damned!"

The Trib recap adds this Manfred quote:
“I would say a couple of things: First of all I think it is really important that Tampa Bay get a new facility. When you look around the major leagues with all the world class facilities that have been built in recent years, I think it’s really important for the Rays to get that type of facility, point one. Point two, stadium development efforts are primarily driven by the desires of local ownership, in this case, Mr. Sternberg. My conversations with Stu have left me with a firm understanding that he wants to get something done in Tampa. Tampa is where he wants to be. I’m supportive, really supportive of his efforts and will do whatever I can assist him going forward.”
Same song, different verse.



  1. New facility means with mass transit system. So it will be interesting to see at the February 19th Workshop if the Rays answer the questions asked by Jim Kennedy.

    If Sternberg want this project to be successful in Tampa Bay, we should see discussions that are highly positive. Otherwise, we are back to square one. That means Sternberg try to demonstrate that this is not working and he will move on to something else, like he said few months ago.

    In the meantime, in Montreal, we continue our actions because no matter what happen in Tampa Bay, what we want is a team with a new stadium.

    It will be an interesting Baseball Summer camp. Just wondering how many times Montreal will be part of questions by the medias all over MLB. With such coverage in just 5 days, I think Montreal will be a hot topic.

  2. To add to the Tampa Tribune's front page alarmist message of 1/29/2015, please note that Stu Sternberg's home is less than 3 miles from the church of which Rob Manfred is a board member. There should be no logistical problems of Stu and Rob conferring early and often. Their respective residences are 12 miles apart.

    Rob Manfred's comments are 100% about posturing, knowing, that he can easily, if he has not already, scare the local politicians (especially Ken Hagan) into spending taxpayer dollars towards a new stadium to further enrich Stu Sternberg. Allegedly, a new stadium is needed so that the Rays can field a more competitive team via being able to sustain a higher payroll.

    Let's look at some basic math. Per Forbes, the Rays generated $36 million in gate receipts in 2013 see . Attendance for 2014 was slightly down from 2013, so the $36 million figure is probably a pretty good estimate for last year as well.

    To build a new stadium for $600 million will require $39 million per year for 30 years (that's optimistic!) at 5% interest. The remaining capital debt on the TROP is pretty close to zero (currently researching for that figure), but let's assume for discussion purposes, here, that it is equivalent to $5 million per year, and it can't possibly go beyond 2027. So increased annual stadium capital costs with a new stadium = $34 million per year.

    So, right out of the gate, the Rays will have to DOUBLE gate receipts (from $36 million to $70 million) just to maintain their current player payroll outlays. We know they won't be doubling attendance, so they will have to raise ticket prices substantially just to get to 'break even'. To be able to substantially increase player payroll, ticket prices will have to go through the roof! Obviously, they are going to be demanding major tax payer funds because there is no economic justification for a new stadium.

    If the MLB wants to have 30 teams, there are always going to be small market loss leaders, especially with their very limited revenue sharing model (as compared to the NFL). It is totally wrong to expect the taxpayers to pay for their broken model and the owners inability to negotiate realistic player salaries. If MLB and Sternberg deem that they need a new stadium in this 15th largest TV market, then let MLB and Stu Sternberg pay for it. Worst case, the Rays leave Tampa Bay. I go to about 4 Rays games per year. I do not want to see them leave, but if they do, so be it. I moved here before the Rays and life was good then. It will be good if and when the Rays move.

    The good news is that the Rams may have already moved from St. Louis to LA in the next few years, and data will show that St. Louis will continue to 'thrive' to whatever extent they thrive without the Rams. So the fear factor of Tampa Bay losing the Rays will subside as will the leverage factor of MLB and Sternberg.

    1. Good points and high level analysis.

      This is why I think Sternberg (and his partners) will not accept to invest $100M or $200M into a stadium knowing that the ROI will be less that what he gets today.

      We all know that with a Pitch Perfect site, attendance may increase up to an average of 20 000, but not much. So expecting an average of 35 000 (at the same price) or 20 000 at 25% price ticket increase (at least), the economics does not works.

      Yes, Rays are receiving ~$60M per year in national broadcasting rights plus local broadcasting rights and both will probably increase, but not to a point to cover the loss on the cost of having a new stadium.

  3. There are just so many variables, so many assumptions. There was a lot of interest in the Bucs when they were good and had a shiny (and free) new stadium with a sweet pirate ship. Now the Bucs stadium sits half empty for the 8 home games they play. Realistically, how much more supportive will Tampa be of 81 home baseball games? If the team is competitive? If the team isn't competitive? 35k average attendance to keep prices the same. No way. People in this area do not and will not soon earn enough to swallow price hikes. That touches on the broader economic limitations here, which should be the real focus of state and local governments. Since the 2007-2009 recession ended, 90% of income gains have gone to the top 1% of earners nationally (in Florida that threshold is an income of 375k). There are only so many people who can afford to go to baseball games. This is a tough reality to acknowledge, particularly when asking that everyone share the burden of building the stadium. With wealth so concentrated, maybe MLB needs to shift toward small market stadiums that seat 10k to 15k people and have nice high walls to block the smell of economic decay. That way the stadiums won't look so empty when only 7k to 8k people have the financial means to reliably attend. Let's not lose sight of the important thing, which is that the right money gets to the right PACs to re-elect the right politicians to get the stadium(s) built with other people's money. Every day in America connections, votes, tax relief, regulatory relief, and legal relief are bought and sold like commodities by people with the net worth to participate in the influence market. Everyone else clings to a red, white, and blue sales brochure labeled "Land of Opportunity." Stadium subsidies are only the most obvious example of how the "American Dream" is rigged to enrich insiders. Other countries are doing big things to gain an edge on us and catch up. While we argue over stadium handouts and deflated footballs.

  4. For those of you that remember, this sounds soooo much like the 1999 Expos hahaha. The team had tried to build a stadium, which failed, then tried again. You had the commissioner saying "this stadium is not good for baseball, the team needs to get a new one. But we are committed to baseball in Montreal." Then the 2nd stadium deal fell through, while cities like Washington, Portland, etc got their ducks in a row.

    That story sounds very much like what's going on now...

    By 2005, no more Expos. I'm sorry, the commissioner can say all he wants that he didn't mean the Rays were moving, but as long as we don't have a stadium deal and another city is serious about getting a team, then what he says is smoke & mirrors.

    Of course he never said the Rays were moving! He didn't say that explicitly. But if you have him, everybody, and their mama believe that "it's possible (for a team to return to Montreal)," then it puts pressure on the Tampa Bay area.

    1. City of Montreal and Quebec province aren't "serious" about MLB, it's Cromartie and his semi-secret cabal.
      Now that another heavily taxpayer-funded white elephant sports edifice in Quebec is scheduled to open this year the specter of another big "owe" will loom large in the local pol's radar. The generation that was stuck with Drapeau's monument are still around and remember.
      They'll have the same bad timing same as the Rayz looking for a handout after the Marlinz debacle in Dade.

    2. In french we usually say 'C'est n'importe quoi!'.

    3. Everything in MLB is smoke and mirrors. Building the stadium, getting the Sox-Giants-Marlins-Rays, negotiating the "Memorandum of Understanding," the home run races, Clemens, Rodriguez, Braun. It is a game of cheaters within an industry of cheaters within a society of cheaters. Let them buy out St. Pete, pack up the team, and take their fraudulent product elsewhere. Or let teams stand on their own two feet in the free market without begging the government for the back-door subsidies of tax-exempt financing. Of all the Wall Street things that MLB does, holding out a hand for cash while also pickpocketing someone is the most Wall Street thing.

    4. what a joke that Montreal isn't serious about MLB. People that make these dumb remarks really tick me off. I hope you are not from Montreal and making these comments, if you are you better come out from underneath the rock you have been hiding under.....catch the games in April and then tell me Montreal is not "serious" about MLB

    5. Wanting baseball....wanting to spend half a billion dollars to get a team is a different story.

    6. what about spending half a billion dollars to KEEP a team? nobody in Tampa/st. Pete seems willing to do that either

    7. Wanting more fans in a new stadium ... getting an average of 28 000-30 000 in the stands is a different story.

      Wanting a MOU and a successful stadium financing plan ... wanting such project by end of 2017 is a different story.

      Having profitable Rays with a new stadium ... having profitable Rays with a new stadium without revenues sharing from small markets is a different story.

      As you can see, it is always a different story and we can continue all day long no matter which topic or which side we will look at.

      One thing is sure, talking about the Rays/stadium with extensive knowledge of the situation and facts ... talking about the Rays/stadium with extensive knowledge of the situation and fact of what is going on elsewhere (like Montreal) is a different story.