Sunday, February 15, 2015

Tampa Council Candidates Talk Rays

Excerpts from a Tampa Tribune Q&A with Tampa City Council District 2 candidates:
If the Tampa Bay Rays get agreement to leave St. Petersburg, should public Community Redevelopment Area dollars or other taxes be used for a new stadium in Tampa?
♦ (Joseph) Citro
Tampa cannot afford to pay for a new stadium. Only after state, county, and ownership funds are secured should Tampa consider.

♦ (Julie) Jenkins
No. I think money should come from private sector.

♦ (Charlie) Miranda
In my opinion, the Rays will either remain in St. Petersburg or relocate to another area entirely. I do not believe relocating to Tampa or anywhere else in the area will solve the Ray’s attendance problem because they will have the same population and corporate base from which to draw. Additionally, it will be difficult to obtain any kind of public funding or subsidy at the same time we may be asking the public to support funding for mass transit.
And over in District 1, where Susan Long is challenging incumbent Mike Suarez:
Should the Tampa Bay Rays get agreement to leave St. Petersburg and move to Tampa, both candidates would support using community redevelopment funds to pay for street and sewer improvements similarly to how the city is planning to pay for infrastructure improvements needed for Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik's proposed downtown remake of the area around the Amalie Arena.

But neither would support using city funds to pay for stadium construction.
“A stadium doesn't bring revenue or residents,” Long said. “I just don't see it being a cost-effective venture.”


  1. Regarding Joseph Citro's comment - "Tampa cannot afford to pay for a new stadium. Only after state, county, and ownership funds are secured should Tampa consider."

    Sad that he thinks it is OK for Tampa residents to pay county and state money.

  2. Even with a MOU to look at other sites in the Tampa region, seems that it will be quite a challenge to get financing. When candidates understand that the region does not have the critical mass of people with massive public transportation to fill a new stadium, can you imagine what the Rays will be thinking now.

    Unless the Rays are ready to pay for a new stadium and they believe strongly it will be profitable for the next 25-30 years, their is no way this team will stay there. With all the work that need to be done in the next 3 years to make it happen, I think they have no choice than starting to negotiate a way out of the Use Agreement.

  3. I'm starting to think that there is no perfect spot in the Tampa Bay region for this to work. Nobody wants to pay for it, and attendance will remain at the bottom of the league, if not last. Throw in the fact that of the new parks built in the last 20 years, only one has been done with private money, and that was in a pretty well established and historical market. I'd ask what everyone thinks the endgame is here, but the writing is on the wall. If I'm a season ticket holder looking to renew, it gets harder to justify coming back to Tropicana Field if the team and the league doesn't want to be there til 2027.

  4. I don't see how you can get a ballpark built if you want the team to pay 100% of the cost. I COMPLETELY agree that the public should not be paying for sports stadiums, at least no more than 50%, but having an owner pay that much of the cost only works in some markets; I don't think the Tampa Bay area is one of them.

    Just think about the message that is being sent to the Rays: "We want you to either play at the Trop until 2027, or compensate us appropriately" (which is fair), "We also want you to pay for a new stadium in this region, but we can't guarantee great attendance even when the team makes the playoffs 4 of 6 seasons" (how is that a smart business deal?).

    If I'm Stu or any businessman looking to buy the Rays from Stu, I realize that the public doesn't seem to want to pay for stadiums anymore. If I'm going to pay for 100% -- or a large majority -- of the cost, I ask myself where I see the best opportunity to get a return on this "investment".

    Tampa-St. Pete would definitely NOT be at the top of that list. Let's be serious now. Owners don't lose money anymore if attendance sucks (because of TV deals, better revenue sharing, etc), but you definitely make more money if more people show up. Not only that, but it's about image as well; having low attendance is simply not a good image, and what businessman wants to be associated with a product that has a poor image?

    My point is simply that if I was going to invest in a region by paying for a new ballpark, I wouldn't do so in a region that can't even show up when my team plays well. Honestly, while the Expos didn't have great attendance, the people in Montreal showed up for the ~5 seasons that the team was good.

    If I was going to invest in a region, I wouldn't do so in a region that is worse than fickle.

  5. The above comment is totally incoherent. People make good investments and bad investments every day. Stadium subsidies are an investment that almost entirely benefits the owners. You hand them 700M. They hand you "visibility." The coming boom in Florida will have precious little to do with baseball. Montreal can take the baseball. Tampa or St. Pete can invest more smartly elsewhere. Baseball is a negative-return investment. Some people would describe such a situation as a money pit or a dumpster fire. It is not fickle to hold a sophisticated counterparty to an arms-length contract it signed. "I completely agree that the public should not be paying for sports stadiums, at least no more than 50%..." You do see how that sentence doesn't work, right? Well here's your forum. Make the economic case for public stadium subsidies, if you can. Your aimless comment boils down to: "If the city pays for the stadium, the owner can make more money." Well, yes, but do you need six paragraphs to state the obvious? The ball is in play for an average of 18 minutes in a baseball game. I have to finance a stadium and buy tickets costing how much and sit still how long to watch these 18 minutes? In light of the growing competition for leisure attention/dollars, it will be fascinating to see where baseball is 10 to 15 years from now. Trending: entertaining sports/activities. Not trending: baseball, kerosene street lamps, horse-drawn carriages.

    1. I have no idea where you're coming from because, I think you missed my "aimless" point.

      My point was NOT: "If the city pays for the stadium, the owner can make more money." I already said that I don't support governments paying for stadiums; as you said, the city gets little in return.

      My point was that no government seems to like paying for stadiums anymore, the way they did for all but 1 of the new parks built in the last 25 years. So if I'm an owner who is going to pay for a new stadium on my own, I would definitely not build one in a region that has shown it won't come see a good team.

      I'm not sure you understood my point because the "investment" I refer to is when an owner invests in a market by paying for a stadium there. I did NOT imply that governments paying for stadiums was an investment.

      I also called the fan base worse than fickle, not the idea of holding a party to their contract.

      You seem to argue that baseball is not worth keeping in Tampa-St. Pete. I disagree; I want to keep the Rays here in the region, but yours is a fair argument. It just wasn't my point in my first post. So I don't know where you got that from.

    2. "Trending" or not, only one of the three industries listed made 9 Billion last year.

      Either way, at some point, someone is going to have to budge, whether it is the Rays, the various cities and counties, or some other city. Despite the fact that this has been going on for years, I think an ending is going to be sooner than 2027. And frankly, after fiascoes in Miami and Atlanta, it becomes less and less likely that anything will be built in the area.

    3. I'd say you're pretty on-the-spot, Matt.

      Someone is going to budge - typically the elected officials - but the fact that they haven't yet explains the stalemate. It underscores how this "crisis" isn't exactly urgent, and how the decisions so far have NOT pushed the team out as many feared.

      Nonetheless, I wouldn't read too much into the Miami/Atlanta history....just this morning, the Times suggested St. Petersburg officials look to Atlanta as a sustainable model. People have short memories and elected officials love to build stadiums.

  6. The taxpayers should not have to subsidize MLB's dysfunctional business model which has two main broken parts:
    1. There is not enough revenue sharing from the rich teams to the poor teams
    2. Players are way overpaid compared to what they add to the bottom line - the main reason being is that the owners can afford to be pathetic in negotiations with sharks like Scott Boras because they are so successful in extracting sweetheart deals from our spineless elected representatives.

    If it comes to pass that the Rays get permission to build a new stadium, we should emphatically point out to the Rays and MLB that Tampa-St. Pete is currently the 13th largest TV market and just 12,000 households behind Detroit and Phoenix (12th and 11th) (see If MLB wants to be able to successfully gain the lucrative TV revenues, than it is up to MLB and the Rays to pay 100% for the new stadium, if, indeed, a new stadium is needed. Otherwise, good luck checking out Orlando, and all the other smaller TV markets.

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  8. Brian Auld was clear when he said that he still not sure if the region can fill a new stadium. No matter where you locate it, mass transit is a major problem. It's all about density and mass transit (with enough corporate head offices).

    For the ones that think the other MLB owner accept the fact that a team will always be profitable with revenues sharing (not TV contracts), this is not true. Revenues sharing could be acceptable if the stadium is full (or almost full). This is far from being the case in TB and this not going to happen in the region or in Florida.

    What is the solution: build a 20 000 seats stadium to lower the offer and increase the prices? This is less seat that the Bell Center in Montreal that is always sold-out and by the way, was paid 100% with private funds ($500M back in the 90's).

    The good thing with the workshop, this discussion, is that all the facts will be on the table and all parties will realize that TB was not, is not and will not be a good MLB market. They got the team for the wrong reasons, in a stadium that was not built for baseball with no vision for the region.

    Time to move on. And Montreal is almost ready. The next 5-6 weeks will be the most important ones for Montreal. You are all invited April 3-4 at the Big 'O' to experience Montreal's ways of supporting baseball teams. 75 000 tickets sold so far and a possibility of ~120 000 tickets.

    Coming soon to a TV network near you, "The Perfect Storm", the story of the 1994 Expos by Sean Menard. The whole baseball planet will talk about Montreal and how great is the city, the fans, and how they missed them.

    Stay Tune!

  9. But Brian Auld does not speak French.

    1. But Brian Auld is an intelligent man that graduated from Harvard. He can learn speaking french!

      But I doubt Brian Auld will still be there once the team is sold/move. Local investors will have their own execs team in place for sure.