Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Rays Rumors Quietly Percolate...

There have been a few Rays developments non-developments in the last few days:
  1. WTVT reports the Rays are talking with the City of St. Pete again.  We've heard this one before - don't expect any overnight solution.  The Rays are still 13 years from the end of their contract, so they may have to work a bit to get out of it.
  2. Meanwhile, Charlie Frago reports councilmember Jim Kennedy plans on asking some difficult questions of the team before he votes to let them go.
  3. The Tampa Bay Times reports Hillsborough County quietly hired a law firm tied to former MLB President Bob DuPay - the issue skirted under scrutiny on a consent agenda item in October.
  4. ESPN lays out MLB commissioner Rob Manfred's top-five priorities upon taking office...and the Rays are not among them.  But interestingly enough, unifying the league's business operations is.  Could this mean more revenue sharing, as I've previously suggested?
  5. But Marc Topkin reports Manfred said on Sirius/XM that he'd be a resource to Rays' ownership.  However, "stadium construction is fundamentally a local issue - the owner, the local government, the local communities have to be committed to the project."
  6. Yet, as just about everyone is reporting, Manfred is still keeping the door open to Montreal, saying "it's possible...with the right set of circumstances and the right facility."  So basically, Montreal is still half a billion dollars away from it.  Manfred added nothing is imminent, but of course, he's got to keep the hopes up - how else could he "help" Tampa Bay ownership if he didn't retain the right to fearmonger and threatmonger, Bud Selig-style?


  1. 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.

  2. Yes, you're right, Montreal is $500-$600M away from a baseball team. At least, I can say that few hundred millions are already identified and will be secured (there is no way the Big 'O' will get a new roof, most of that money will probably be allocated to a downtown stadium). The mayor was clear on this topic.

    However, Tampa Bay is $1.5-$2G away to keep the Rays if you include a mass transit system that is critical to increase significantly the number of fans in the stadium.

    Stay tune, major announcement about a downtown stadium in Montreal will happen soon! Remember, the ultimate event is the Reds/Jays games April 3rd & 4th, and Manfred is going to be there this year, having all the time to meet the investors, the government and of course, the mayor. Sales ticket are very good so far (more than 65 000 tickets sold for the two games, same pace as last year where we got more than 96 000 people).

    In the mean time, work behind closed doors are going on with visits planned in Chicago and in other MLB cities to meet some team owners, explaining the Montreal plan and strategy, the steps accomplished so far and what need to be done soon to get a team back.

    With the investment of $11M on baseball fields in Montreal over 3 years (and other cities investments already made or to be announced to invest in baseball), the strategy is perfectly aligned with Manfred's vision to focussed on kids and adults playing this great sport.

  3. Jim Kennedy is asking very good questions, not sure the Rays want to answer all those questions at this stage. Especially questions F and G.

    Here are the questions:

    In addition to discussion of development rights pursuant to the use agreement and the effects of the MOU on development rights, I request the following be included in Rays workshop scheduled for Feb. 19, 2015 at 9:00 am.

    a. Report relating to any and all environmental concerns or restriction which affects the Trop property.
    b. Describe all sites the Rays intend to evaluate and whether they will include the Trop site, Carrillon, and the Dog Track.
    c. Describe all standards to be used by the Rays in the evaluation of all sites; e.g. traffic studies, ABC used a 24 hour traffic pattern while Daryl LeClair used a 5:00 pm to midnight traffic pattern
    d. Advise whether the standards used by the Rays and the evaluation of all the different sites will become public record.
    e. The effect of the MOU on the use agreement if the Rays determine in their opinion none of the sites within Pinellas or Hillsborough is acceptable.
    f. An understanding of the Rays economic distress due to playing all games at the Trop and how a move to a new site will generate more income for Rays and the City.
    g. A comparison of the economic impact to the City of St. Pete if the Rays play all home games in Pinellas vs. Hillsborough.
    h. An explanation of the capital account pursuant to the use agreement. An explanation as to why the Capital Account should be used to reduce the first annual payment and the potential effect of this on future maintenance and repairs to the Trop.
    i. How the MOU insures that the Rays will be in Tampa Bay after 2027.
    j. The effect of the MOU having specific compensation amounts on the theory
    of Irreparable Harm and Injunctive Relief.
    k. What actions could the City of St. Petersburg and Pinellas County take to facilitate a new stadium for the Rays in St. Petersburg?

  4. Noah, I don't understand why you continue to disregard Montreal, thinking it's on the same level as Charlotte, San Antonio, or Portland.

    Nothing you have written on this site has led me to believe the Rays future here is safe.

    I, and am sure others like me, tend to worry about Montreal more than you do. Here is what worries me:

    1. Montreal has the Canadian equivalent of Comcast, and a couple of billionaires who are richer than Stu, reported as possible owners.
    2. As you yourself reported, these guys have $200M ready to go. Do you really think the above folks will have a hard time finding the rest of the money? Come on..
    3. I cannot find any reason why we are more likely to build a stadium here in Tampa-St. Pete than they are in Montreal. What makes us more likely to find the public funds??
    4. How are we more attractive to Stu or any other owner? You wanna talk about audience? Montreal has a larger metro population (more people available to come to games every night). You say TV audience is higher here with Orlando? Well if the Blue Jays can market to 35 million Canadians, I'd assume a 2nd Canadian team could market to 17 million.
    5. Sure 100,000 people for 2 games a year is no indication of year-long attendance. But that is not the perception around MLB. People all over MLB have been talking about how "passionate" they are for baseball in Montreal. Then you look at us and there's 12,000 "in attendance" most nights (attendance is at 19,000 just because of weekend games skewing the average).
    6. Montreal, unlike St. Pete hasn't soured a relationship with the Rays by keeping them at the Trop for 10+ years.

    I'd like for you to convince me that these concerns are false. They are how I see things, and they make me worry about the next few years.

    Please address these topics, because so far when I've posted you have simply said "don't worry, the Rays have 12 more years."

    1. Completely agree with you.

      Remember, it's all about perception.

      And right now, Montreal is in the mind of major medias (NYT, NYP, ...), MLB owners (an important PR campaign from Montreal Baseball Project and Mayor Coderre is underway across the US (LA, NY, TB, SF, Chicago, ...) for the last 12 months, and the Commissionner office.

      And watch "The Perfect Storm" on the 1994 Expos team. Coming soon on major networks in North America, just in time for the build-up of the April 3-4 games! I saw the documentary last month (I'm one of the KickStarter backer) and it will be a blast for all baseball fans that remember the 90's.

      Lots of journalists, players, coaches, owners have a story about Montreal. Lassorda and his preferred Spaghetti sauce from "La Petite Italie", Tim Wallach, Tim Raines, Pedro Martinez, Filipe Alou, ...

      And everyone missed coming to Montreal.

      So the power of attraction of the city with major investors aligned, with Bell Media (TSN and RDS) that can invest big $$$ for air time (considering they lost the $5G NHL deal for the next 12 years to their competitor, Rogers that owns the Blue Jays) is higher than ever.

      Journalists and commentators need to take the time to read and listen (yes, in french) all the interviews, press conferences, editorials, ... in Quebec. Just in the last 3 weeks, we learned a lot on what is going on and what are the next steps.

      Remember, Montreal with its 100+ years of baseball tradition and love of the game is ready with open arms and open hearts to welcome a new team of an existing one that lacks love and support from fans and his community.

    2. And to help you find the good stuff in french, here are the latest news and comments on the Montreal project of getting the Expos back.

      Mayor Coderre talking about baseball, Expos and of course, what is going on to have MLB back in town.éos/il-y-a-un-engouement-pour-le-baseball-3.1113531éos/quand-on-investit-dans-nos-enfants-on-investit-dans-l-avenir-3.1113532

      Philippe Cantin, probably one of the most respected sport journalist not only in Montreal but in Canada.