Thursday, April 2, 2015

Why Another Fixed-Roof Stadium Seems to Make the Most Sense for Tampa Bay

I spent a lot of time in 2012 talking about how an open-aired stadium in Florida is crazy, and how a translucent, fixed-roof stadium would make a lot more fiscal sense for the Rays & Tampa Bay than an expensive retractable roof.

It hasn't garnered much attention yet, but today, we have a nice piece in the Times from Stephen Nohlgren about ETFE materials could potentially bring the cost of a new stadium down from that $500-$600 million mark so frequently tossed around.
"Miami is an enclosed stadium with a hard deck and (is) air-conditioned. It is designed that way,'' (Mike Wekesser, lead designer on Target Field and now sports design director of the architectural firm AECOM) says. "You could bring down the cost — I don't know by how much — by using lighter material. You would bring down the tonnage of steel, and in Tampa Bay, concrete. It is one of the biggest costs in any stadium.''
Some interior spaces, such as luxury suites, always need AC. Admitting enough light to support natural grass could conflict with providing enough shade for fans. And in Florida, hurricane standards come into play.

Still, "I think you can find a way to put a skin on a new ballpark that does not have to be retractable,'' Wekesser says. "The roof could be more like a canopy or umbrella, with side ventilation so air could pass through. The edges could be opaque enough to get shade. It could have that open-air feel of old-time baseball.
What Nohlgren didn't address is how teams in Southern cities like Miami and Phoenix seldom even use their retractable roofs on summer nights because it's so hot. 

A good point was also made by Matthew Brown in a five-part Stadiafile series - often echoed by the Rays - that "clubs must remain ambitious and creative, retractable roofs or not, in their quest to create the best and most exciting ballparks possible to cater to and help craft future fans."

So the good news for Tampa Bay is that we may only be looking at a $400-$500 million price tag for a state-of-the-art new stadium instead of $500-$600 million.  The bad news is, the region still falls far short of paying for a fixed-roof stadium without the majority coming from the Rays or MLB.


  1. Noah, you forget to mention the $1.2G-$1.5G (maybe $2G) mass transit investments required to draw more people in the new stadium, wherever it will land.

    What's the overall plan for mass transportation in the TB region? No workshops on this topic? No regional summit on this question?

    That's the real question that need to be addressed in conjunction with the new stadium. Just a stadium without people is a waste of money and time.

    If you don't believe me, check this weekend how 100k+ people (which means very little, right?) will go to the Big O in a part of the city (East end) that is not downtown.

    2 metro stations (subway) and express buses will facilitate traffic and mouvement of people from all over the city (which is an island by the way) with all the cities on the North, South, Est and West shores of the island. I will park my car in the streets near a subway station and use public transportation to go directly to the Big O. Easy way in, easy way out.

    Can't wait to have a stadium downtown surrounded by metro and train stations (and probably Light Rail System on the new Champlain bridge) so it will be convenient to go to a restaurant before the game or after an afternoon game and the, hop in the metro or train, back to my car with no trafic to go home.

  2. Folks, as per my previous comments and opinions, Warren Cromartie, former Expos player and President of Montreal Baseball Project confirms that he's talking to Manfred and the next step is to have a serious plan to build a new stadium in Montreal in the next 12 months or before the end of the year.

    "Encouragé par l’intérêt manifeste des amateurs pour les deux matchs disputés ce week-end au Stade olympique, Warren Cromartie veut faire passer le projet de retour du baseball majeur à Montréal en deuxième vitesse. Son objectif : dresser un plan sérieux pour la construction d’un nouveau stade d’ici l’année prochaine."


    More to come on this topic in the next few days.

    P.S. Yes Noah, La Presse and La Presse+ is a very credible newspaper/media just in case you ask the question.

    1. Sadly , I can't make the games this year, but I was impressed with how easy it was to get to the Big O from where we were staying via the subway. Still, as a tourist, I do agree that a Downtown Stadium would be best for Montreal, as I was disappointed that there was little to do around the stadium before and after the games.

    2. "As per my previous comments and opinions..."

      You are anonymous... We have no clue what you are talking about.

  3. Go for it. Believe what MLB is telling you and go for it. That will have no bearing on the Rays use agreement, unless the Montreal group facilitates the breach of the agreement, in which case all of the dirty laundry will be aired in the lawsuit that follows.

  4. We could build a really nice soccer stadium for under $200M. Ugh, baseball. Baby boomers are the worst. Go out to pasture already.

  5. I'm a 55+ year old life-long Tampa Bay area resident and huge baseball fan that waited for what seemed like an eternity to have the opportunity to enjoy regular season MLB baseball. I'll be the first to admit that seeing my team leave St. Petersburg would hurt, even it the organization moved to neighboring Tampa. Unfortunately I'm also a realist. The Tampa Bay area will NEVER support this team like Rays ownership and management expect. Build a new stadium to watch fans and corporate support build -- for a year or two. Granted Miami and the Tampa Bay area are two different markets but they're both in Florida. Take a quick look at Marlins attendance since their new stadium opened and you'll see a franchise that is drawing slightly more than what "outdated" Tropicana Field draws on any given summer night. I do believe the two franchises are last and last in their respective leagues. The bottom line is nothing is going to change if the Rays move across the bay. Again, one year, maybe two. 15 years later whomever owns the team will be looking to move to more fertile northern ground.

    1. Very intelligent takes, Jeff. Very real concerns.

    2. I'm with Jeff. If you had told a theoretical owner in 1991 the Rays attendance numbers, they'd probably shrug and say it was doable. Camden Yards, PacBell Park, and the rest have made it so that you need 28k+ a game to stay competitive.

      Baseball left Tampa Bay behind, not the other way around.

  6. Councilman Newton hit a homerun today in the meeting: "The Rays are going up I-275 to Montreal". Game over.

    1. Dear Montreal Fans,

      Just something to ponder. In the early 90's there were many headlines in the Tampa area Newspapers, such as:

      "Texas Rangers Moving to Tampa"
      "Deal Signed, San Francisco Giants moving to Tampa"
      "Chicago White Sox Moving to Tampa due to Fan Empathy and Lack of Public Funding"
      "City Council Denies Funding for New Mariners Stadium, Owner Says a Deal Will be Signed and Move to Tampa Imminent"
      "Texas Rangers Moving to Tampa due to Lack of Public Investment"

      Good luck getting a team Montreal. Keep in mind, it won't happen anytime soon. Not within 20 years anyway.


      Your Friends in Tampa Bay.

    2. Dear Tampa Bay Fans,

      Cheer for your team and fill the Tropicana Field. That's the best way to keep your team, get a new stadium (with private money) and help us getting an expansion team within 5-7 years with the internalization of Baseball (as per Manfred comments).

      Otherwise, there will be no expansion and Montreal will be more than happy to adopt your team. The good news is that with either scenarios, Montreal is happy.

      You control your own destiny and you don't need luck for this.


      Your Friends in Montreal.