A day ahead of St. Pete city council's latest foray into contract amendment negotiations, both the Trib's editorial board and it's lead metro columnist, Joe Henderson, penned pieces regarding the big rush for a Rays deal in 2015, a full 12 years before the end of its use agreement with the team.
An excerpt from the editorial board, which claims any alteration to Mayor Rick Kriseman's negotiated deal runs the risk of losing the Rays:
We hope the council considers instead a way to reverse last spring’s dreadful decision to reject Mayor Rick Kriseman’s reasonable and fair proposal to let the team look in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties for new stadium sites.Then, a factual error:
Under Kriseman’s deal, the Rays would pay the city from $4 million to $2 million a year as compensation for leaving Tropicana Field before the contract to play there through 2027 expires.Actually, it's between $4 million and $0 because the Rays refused to compensate St. Pete for breaking the final year of the deal, 2027. And since the team won't leave before 2018, it'll never have to pay $4 million for any single season under the Kriseman plan, either.
The Trib continues:
The council is running out of chances to get this right. If a majority can’t get behind a viable plan like the one the mayor negotiated, whether now or after the election, it could be game over.For those of you keeping score at home, the Trib editorial board told us last off-season it was the "last chance" for a compromise too. In 2012, the board wrote contraction was a possibility without a new stadium soon. And in 2010, the paper was unabashedly driving the campaign train to get the Rays out of the Trop.
Sigh. This was my reaction after the last "last chance" stories in 2014:
FLASHBACK 2014: Rays Continue to (Mostly) Get a Free Pass from Local PressAfter dozens of Times/Trib editorials calling on #StPete to make #StadiumSaga concessions, why don't they ever call on #Rays to make any?— Shadow of Stadium (@StadiumShadow) December 20, 2014
Meanwhile, Henderson's column was more thoughtful and less critical...at least of city council. He actually took a critical approach to the region's inability to pack the stands, adding the Rays won't pay much more than they've already agreed to and council should essentially stop asking them to:
So let’s just skip the theatrics. We’ve waited this long for consensus on a stadium solution. Everyone can wait a couple of weeks until after the elections so we will know who is on the council and what the chances are of actual serious negotiations.I first wrote in 2009 that all the talk about the Trop's inadequate structure was silly; its location was the real problem. I must've been convincing; new stadium advocates have adopted the talking point ever since.
When that hour comes, hopefully the city is finally prepared to accept an uncomfortable truth. Major League Baseball doesn’t work in downtown St. Petersburg, and it never will.
...Fans have shown time and again they won’t drive an hour or more each way through our choking traffic to the extreme west side of the market to watch a weeknight baseball game. Neither of these latest proposals appears to acknowledge that.
To Henderson's credit, he's written about the remote location of Tropicana Field for a long time too, and he's right that fans in Florida generally aren't willing to drive 60 minutes for a baseball game.
But fans are in other MLB markets. Who is responsible for that miscalculation?
Let's ask ourselves - is it the city of St. Pete, being asked to make financial concessions to the corporations (MLB & Rays) that made a bad business decision? Or is it the corporations that put the baseball team in the remote stadium in the first place and have profited generously from its existence for the last three decades?
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