Monday, September 28, 2015

Trib Endorses New Stadium Opponent

Claiming St. Pete's District 7 council race was all about the Rays stadium was doing everyone a disservice.  And now that the Tampa Tribune editorial writers are looking at a number of issues and recent missteps by their formerly-endorsed candidate, Lisa Wheeler-Brown, they've had a change of heart on their endorsement.

The Trib endorsed Wheeler-Brown's opponent, Will Newton, for the November D7 runoff.  You'll remember Newton is the brother of the current council's biggest opponent of a Rays compromise, Wengay Newton.  The two brothers share similar views on the stadium.

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  1. So much for getting the support of local politicians and businesses....

  2. Someone from Canada here..

    How much longer is this going to go? MLB isn't going to let the Rays stay at the Trop for 12 more years, regardless of lease.. I mean, we lost our hockey team in Belleville, Ontario, to Hamilton despite having 2 years left on the lease because of the issue of not building a new arena.

    Won't this happen to the Rays if this keeps up, possibly in the next year or two? I mean, the Trop is near unsuitable for baseball at this point. While I understand taxpayers don't want to pay for it, but the team cannot wait much longer for a new stadium, especially as attendance sinks to 1998-2004 Expos levels, which led to that team moving to Washington DC.

    1. Hi Gregory,
      Have you attended MLB games at the Trop?

    2. I've been to the Trop. It's better than the Big O.

      However the Big O with 50K+ fans is way better than the Trop. with 20K-.

      At this point, the overall experience is way better.

      This is why TB need to figure out how to fill the stadium (old or new) no matter where it will be located. Because Miami is the perfect example of a brand new stadium without fans and this is unacceptable even with TV ratings over the roof.

    3. The Trop isn't such a bad spot for a ballgame. The problem is, that there are at least 25 parks if not more that are flat out better for a game. Whether it's atmosphere, sight-lines, scenery, history, or aesthetics, Tropicana Field is at the bottom, which is a shame, given the recent renovations. Honestly I just don't see there being a spot on either side of the bay that is going to bring the Rays' attendance out of the bottom third.

      Bringing up Miami is an excellent example, aside from the front offices, which are polar opposites, as they have a shiny new park, and plenty of seats available for 98% of the games. Is anyone willing to bet that a new Rays ballpark would be any different?

    4. The debate right now is all about the stadium (existing vs new, St-Pete vs elsewhere in TB, ...) and it's the wrong one.

      Some people says that the Rays needs to do more (or differently) to attract fans. I'm pretty sure Rays tried lots of things in the last 5 years and they, for sure, analyzed the market from all possible angles, trying to find ways, marketing campaigns, promotions to bring fans to the stadium.

      From my point of view, what I never saw is what the business community is saying and what the fans are saying. Not one or two. the community of fans. And I'll go further. What businesses and fans community are doing to make it work (supporting a team with real people in the stands, with fever, cheering for their preferred players)?

      In the shadow of the stadium, seems that nobody's there. The public space for those groups is empty. No ones are concerned (or seems to be concerned).

      Again, I saw more fans and business owners in Oakland at the city council in 2014 when it was time to discuss the stadium project than I saw people in the room in St-Pete during all those meetings, working sessions and formal sessions.

      Joey Saputo (owner of the Montreal Impact in the MLS) was having an attendance problem in the last few years. He called a meeting with the press earlier this year and openly said that the BUZZ around the Impact was no longer there. And he was sad.

      He never said I will sell the team even if when we were reading behind the lines, he was starting the process to think about the future of his ownership. He's the fan #1 with passion and did not understood why people were not coming to games when bars, restaurants are full of people listening to soccer games in UK, Italia, France, ...

      His speech was sincere and lucid. After spending almost $100M (if not more) in a soccer team for years (he's the one that founded the club in 1992), the medias were laid back on soccer news and coverage, fans were not attending games in a beautiful stadium that is well located (just next to the Big O with 2 subway stations). Location is not perfect but the club was not able to afford a land downtown Montreal.

      This open speech was kind of a wake-up call. Following that, Saputo decided to go ALL-IN: sign Drogba and change the coach with a local former Impact player that was a member of the organization.

      And guess what. the stadium is sold out, the press is behind the team, season tickets sales for next year are way better than what they saw in previous years. What will happen if the team start loosing? Some fans may not show-up. But at least, we can see that the trends is no longer going downward. It's a continuous work in progress for the Impact but also for the community, the businesses to support such team.

      Bottom line, the community (business, fans an media) took the time to think about what could be done to make this team successful at the gate and in the media. And they responded.

      Yes, a winning team with a star player is helping. But my point here is that it's up to the community to find solutions. It's up to the different groups to voice their concerns, their views, their solutions and ultimately, to buy tickets.

      Rays had great players on the field in the past. They still have some great players (some of them are still young), great coaching staff.

      I hope that something happen soon over there. Because staying quiet, looking at what each sides are doing, speculating, saying, thinking, it's like being on the Titanic deck. And we all know how that story end.

      It's dark and there are icebergs everywhere. Let's stop the music and the dance in the ballroom pretending everything is going well. Better have good plan to navigate in troubles waters.

    5. When you compare the Trop to 25 other MLB parks, it loses. But fans on any given night aren't making that comparison unless we tell them to.

      Fans are comparing the Trop to the movies, the beach, a restaurant, etc. If we didn't tell them how bad the Trop was compared to other MLB stadiums, many folks might be a little more willing to go to games.

    6. I don't know about that. People compare things all the time without being told. That's what we do. If we didn't tell people how "bad" the Trop was and sat a newcomer down at a Rays game, and then at any other park, and asked them which one was better, we all know what their answer would be. It's not a secret.

      As time goes on, I am less inclined to believe it's the stadium or the bridge or the beaches. Every other team has major attractions that act as competition, whether they are sports related or not, yet their attendances only fluctuate in relation to the wins and losses overall. Every other team has traffic, and decent TV numbers too?

      Honestly, in 30 years, people will be reading about this case in textbooks, regardless of how it goes down.

    7. Noah - good point. I recall the same of SkyDome (now Rogers Centre) and of course, Olympic Stadium in Montreal.

      Tell the fans that something is crap, and they will buy in to it. Eventually, it becomes crap. The self-fulfilling prophecy is sometimes the greatest enemy.

  3. It's all by design...From what I understand, the Rays will be playing at a new stadium in Ybor. Details are being laid out.

    1. Of course they will... and the stadium will be ready for the 2018 season.... yep.

    2. If that was true, then why hasn't there been any stories about it?

    3. bc it's top secret Gregory.... ! ;-)