It reads a lot like his similar column from March. And 2014. And 2013. And Nov. 2012. And April 2012. And the Summer of 2011. And the Spring of 2011, when he suggested MLB could simply fold up the Rays in 2017 if no deal had been struck yet.
Anyway, this time around, Romano lays out another case why St. Pete should just accept the Rays' damn deal and move on. An excerpt:
Money matters: A deal worked out by the mayor and the Rays would allow the team to explore stadium sites in both Hillsborough and Pinellas for three years. Should the Rays actually leave for Hillsborough, they would pay St. Pete between $2 million and $3 million for every unused season on the Tropicana Field contract.Except the last year, 2027, where the city gets nothing. But I digress...
Cost of remorse: In the middle of acrimonious stadium negotiations, cities often say good riddance to football and baseball owners. And then, several years later, they spend hundreds of millions to get back in the game. Milwaukee, Kansas City, Seattle and Washington all lost baseball teams in the 1960s and '70s. Houston, St. Louis, Baltimore and Oakland lost NFL teams in the 1980s and '90s. All eventually paid dearly for replacement franchises. The only city to lose a baseball team in the last 40 years was Montreal — which is now desperately lobbying MLB officials for a second chance.But since the Rays are driving such a hard bargain, maybe St. Pete could too and still keep the team in Tampa Bay long-term? Nahhh......
Here's what's crazy about all of this: We haven't even reached the hard part.There's a chance a new fixed-roof stadium might only cost in the $425-450 million range...which would mean either a smaller contribution from the public...or most likely, a smaller contribution from the Rays than the $150-$200 million many folks expect them to contribute.
Any new stadium will likely require $300-$400 million in public funds, and there are legitimate arguments about whether baseball is worth that type of investment in either county.
But we can't even begin that debate — nor debates about transit, downtown redevelopment or a host of other issues — until the Rays issue is resolved.
It's time for St. Pete to step up to the plate.
Of course, the team won't talk about money right now. So which side exactly needs to step up?
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