It appeared in the editorial pages of the Tampa Bay Times. Actually, it was the St. Petersburg Times. Because the article about how time was running short on a deal was printed on April 2, 2010:
In the best of worlds, with few glitches, a new stadium would take six or seven years to complete. Nine or 10 years is more likely...A 10-year project that needs to be completed by 2022 must start in 2012. A nine-year project that needs to be completed by 2020 must start by 2011.
Freeing the Rays to move to either Tampa or another city within the next six or seven years could net St. Petersburg hundreds of millions of dollars.The 10-year timeline seems far-fetched...as does the "hundreds of millions of dollars" claim, given the Times' recent contentions that even $4 million per season (around $37 million total) is too much for the Rays to pay for the right to terminate their contract early.
But imagine, too, how the city could benefit from say, a $150 million buyout, $60 million from selling the Trop's 86 acres, $80 million in savings from not building a new stadium, $100 million from bonding out new tax revenue from a developed Trop?
Nohlgren wrote $150 million would be a good price for the Rays to cough up if it wanted out of its contract by 2020, with the offer diminishing every year closer we got to 2027.
Except we know Mayor Bill Foster offered the team out of the Trop for $5 million/yr. In 2013, it would have cost the team for just $75 million. According to Foster, the team wouldn't even consider the offer.
So either the Times editorial board is right and Nohlgren is way wrong regarding how much the Rays should pay to escape the deal they signed in 1998...or the team is on the verge of scoring the bargain of the century.
Nohlgren also pointed out a judge might award St. Pete more than $100 million if the Rays decided to break their contract and leave. But to his credit, he recognized the value of "damages" would diminish as years ticked away on the contract:
No matter what course the city ultimately takes, each successive year without concrete progress drains St. Petersburg of legal and financial leverage. It damages the entire region's chances for baseball.Often lost in the talk of diminishing leverage is the fact that every year that ticks away on the contract is also an additional year St. Pete benefits from having the team (without any remaining bond payments on the stadium!).
ALSO READ: Not clear if St. Pete has any less leverage in the negotiations than it did in 2010
Following Nohlgren's 2010 column, I wrote how the Rays' lack of real urgency was a sign they were just trying to scare the region and lower the price of a buyout:
Why aren’t they at the table if they want a new stadium so badly?In the five years since, the Rays haven't done much more than wait....while public support for a stadium has only grown...and the appetite for a legit payoff to St. Pete for agreeing to tear up the Trop contract has only shrunk.
It seems that - because although they’re counting on public money for a stadium - there’s not much public support for one. So the Rays continue to wait.
FOLLOW: Shadow of the Stadium on Twitter
FOLLOW: Shadow of the Stadium on Facebook