Friday, October 23, 2015

Times Once Wrote Rays Payoff to St. Pete Should Be $150 Million

A very interesting read from the Times' Stephen Nohlgren: "Keeping the Rays in Tampa Bay: Why time is running short."

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.

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?  
The 10-year timeline seems 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.

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?

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.
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.

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  1. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!
    Open up your books MLB! When MLB does, it will clearly show that no MLB team needs another dime of taxpayer money.

    If Stu/MLB wants to leave Tampa Bay, don't let the door hit you in the ass, and as you exit you will pay a couple hundred million dollars for damages to St. Pete as you break the contract/agreement or whatever it is called.

    If Stu/MLB 'needs' a new stadium in the Tampa Bay area, then Stu/MLB can easily pay for it. If Stu/MLB sees greener pastures elsewhere, then please leave this 14th largest TV market for a smaller TV market or another country. The money that I spend going to 4 games a year will get spent elsewhere in the community, and we all will be better off.

    1. Regarding TV market, it's important to note that in Montreal (and the province of Quebec), average ratings for the Blue Jays post-season games were 195 000 viewers with a peak of 754 000 during game 5 Rangers-Bleu Jays.

      Those ratings are for the french sports network RDS only. You must add Sportsnet english viewers in the province to have the global number.

      And these numbers are for a team from Toronto which is not usual for Montrealers to watch a sport team from Toronto, believe me.

      In Canada, there were 11 millions viewers on Sportsnet for game 5 between Rangers and Blue Jays.

      So the Canadian TV market is huge and even in Montreal, the ratings with the Expos (in post-seasons) would be at least 2 times bigger (if not more) than what we had in the last few weeks.

      I don't know how Montreal TV ratings market compared to Tampa Bay, but I'm pretty sure this is not a small one even with only a team from Toronto to cheer for!

      So nobody should underestimate the market size of Montreal (and the province of Quebec) as well as the overall acadian market where lots of baseball fan stopped watching baseball because the Expos left. Those viewers (form the maritimes, the souk east of Ontario and also in Quebec) will be back at the stadium for games and also will watch TV or listen to the radio as soon as a team is back.

      We are starting to have real numbers and with 80 000+ tickets sold for April 2016 pre-season games (mayor Coderre said yesterday it's almost sold-out, so close to 110 000-115 000 tickets sold for 2 games), important announcements will be made in Montreal when the World Series will be finished.

      Michael Fortier that is part of the Montreal group to bring back the Expos since day 1 confirmed that Stephen Bronfman and Mayor Coderre are running the show, investors are lined-up and even people from outside Montreal are in the picture.

      Here is the interview, Expos segment is starting at 6:29.

      Stay Tuned!

    2. Based on Forbes Rays TV ratings, an average of 73 000 households were watching Rays games in 2015.

      Just to put that in perspective, RDS ratings for games during the season (random games during the season, some Blue Jays games also) are around 50 000 to 75 000. Maybe 100 000. And no local team.

      So market size for TV ratings in Montreal (and the province of Quebec) is important and probably 1.5x to 2x bigger than Tampa Bay based on those numbers with no promotion, no attachement to any teams.

    3. Exciting news to say the least! Strange how quiet the commenters on this site have been since the Kennedy deal was approved.

    4. Well, good, no more taxpayers $ to sports teams for stadiums...
      Then how about sports teams not donating time or money to it's community? Or them getting back the revenue in raising your property values, or getting a portion of all out-of-towners sales tax within a 1/2 mile radius? Or just building stadiums where ever, however in your city or town? And teams keeping all revenue from bigger hosted events?

    5. Maybe they should outsource all their jobs...

  2. St.Pete should just be lucky MLB awarded them a team to fill their vacant dome funded by the public. Also, they should be lucky the Rays stuck around & brought drew thousands downtown for most of St.Petes off season this long when the $ is in Tampa...
    A lot of talk about how much revenue a sports team and/or event brings a city, how about compiling the Rays games & events that the Trop gotten because of the Rays making the place look nicer figures for almost the last 20 years?