Tuesday, January 5, 2016

New Year, New Life for Rays' Stadium Hopes

A new year is breathing new life into the Rays' prospects for a new stadium.

The Times' Charlie Frago reports St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman is moving along with his planned meetings with councilmembers, making sure he has the five votes he needs to finalize a deal that would allow the Rays to finally explore new stadium sites in Tampa. (Sorry Montreal)

The mayor issued a correction/clarification today, however, that no vote will take place this Thursday, the first full meeting with the new council.
Details of the "new" deal have been secret for weeks, with the city taking extreme steps not to create any written documents through the negotiating process to avoid creating public records.

But I've said before that the "new" deal will look a lot like the "old" deal for some common sense reasons:
The previously-pitched agreement would cost the Rays about $2 million for every year they left the Trop before 2027 - a figure that has been poorly reported and is also significantly less than other teams have paid to break their stadium contracts.

ALSO READ: 2015 - The Lost Year in the Stadium Saga

The $2M/yr is also a fraction of what the Times once suggested the Rays should pay...but, with no disrespect to my many talented colleagues who work at the paper, we shouldn't be surprised at anything we read in either local daily these days:
Come to think of it, aren't we due for another Times stadium editorial?

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  1. (Sorry Montreal)

    Ha! Yes, yes, expansion is over because of all the potential cities being perceived small markets. Aside from Montreal being the largest market in the US or Canada without a team. Aside from Monterrey being larger than just about everyone else. And while we're on the topic of small markets, Milwaukee is the smallest market, with no history of winning, and two huge, historic teams an hour South, yet they average an additional 16,000 more fans a game than Tampa Bay. Yes, more than double. Not to forget other small market teams like Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, or Kansas City, where fans actually remember or care that they have a team.

    Either way, if Tampa Bay finally announces a stadium deal, this Montreal and Rays fan says GOOD! Finally even! Oakland and TB are some of the only reasons why expansion has been held up. You can't bring in more teams if some of your teams are struggling attendance wise in dated parks. Not that I'm convinced a new park will do much for the Rays, but at the very least it would keep them in the Bay region.

    But don't kid yourself, the Rays are still a ways away from making such an announcement, all the while the clock is ticking, meaning less money for St Pete. And we'll overlook the fact that nobody is willing to pay for a new park, there is no location that is less than 30 minutes from the majority of the fanbase, no proper transit, terrible traffic conditions, a divided "us vs them" mentality between the counties, and an attendance that continues to drop, regardless of what happens on the field. Oh, and no new TV money, despite having good TV numbers.

    I don't pretend to speak for anyone else, but expansion always seemed like the better method of obtaining a team again in Montreal. MLB will always try to fix what they have before giving up. But hey, having Montreal fans show up has been good for the blog numbers, eh Noah. I'm sure more local Rays fans would watch you on TV though.

    1. "don't kid yourself, the Rays are still a ways away from making such an announcement, all the while the clock is ticking, meaning less money for St Pete."

      Many in St. Pete would rather another season of the Rays than the relatively puny $2M/season the team is offering to leave...

    2. Are there really that many?

      Is it not fair to assume that St Pete could have it's cake and eat it too, ie, the Rays stay in the Bay area, just across the bridge, while St Pete reaps the alleged benefits of the redeveloped Trop site? Better to stay in the region than gone altogether, right? Or is it equally as safe to assume that bridge traffic would keep current fans living in St Pete away, just as it does fans in Tampa now?

  2. It's funny, you like to bash "the Times" then conduct interviews for them?

    To me, this is just another short-story about Channelside finally being put in motion...

  3. Mexico will have a team before Montreal.

    1. Anonymous, your are right, when naming the two expansion teams in alphabetical order, Mexico is before Montréal!

  4. It's too bad Montreal, won't be getting a team. It may happen in 2050. Certainly, not anytime soon. I have inside info. You can take that to the bank.

    1. It would be nice to have a name here. At least we would know who is eating their words in a few years.

  5. Noah, are MLB applications for relocation similarly public? I am curious to see the relocation threat played all the way out in Tampa Bay, just to see what Rays ownership says about the region as they beg/sniff for money elsewhere.


    1. Applications are generally only public when the league chooses to....or a public government agency is responsible for filling them out.

    2. In this case, the Rams chose to release theirs to create public leverage.

  6. I think you are forgetting that Portland and Las Vegas are also looking for a team. I drive from Clermont 3 or 4 times a year to see the Rays. They are entertaining and it would be awful to see them leave but unfortunately they cannot compete with attendance the way it is. Montreal failed once but that may have been because of Seligs friend Loria, who may be the biggest clown in baseball since Comiskey.

    1. While Loria (and probably Selig) had a plan in mind (taking control of a baseball team one step at a time by diluting the other shareholders and ultimately eliminating the team to get a new one elsewhere), some of their actions impacted the team and the sport. Like not renewing the english radio broadcasting rights of the games in 2000. Once that said, there are several factors that contributed to the failure in Montreal.

      1. There were no local investors ready to take the lead, that's why Loria arrived like a Whith Knight. Without revenues sharing, MLB was at the time a business that did not care about smaller markets. And local investors did not want to take the risk. They abandoned the team and the fans.

      2. When your baseball team never played into a real baseball stadium (Jarry Park was a temporary solution) and you have an Olympic Stadium (not made for any sports) looking for a team considering all the money it costed, it's tough to sell it to the fans and to put the emphasis on the fan experience.

      3. The Expos were bought by the league, sending the message that the end is near. Without the ability to add players to make it more competitive, MLB was in conflict of interest by owning the team.


      So yes, Loria and Selig contributed directly to the failure in Montreal. Since then, the media landscape completely changed in Canada (and in the US) where sports TV stations are paying a premium price to get sports content and the revenue sharing allow an insurance that a revenue stream in USD will come year after year.

      Regarding other potential markets in the US, it's a tough landscape. TV rights territories make it difficult for a new team to get a piece of the pie. That lead us to ask the question: To which extend the market can absorb one or two more teams without cannibalizing revenues from another team?

      The new/potential markets needs to be big enough to add more revenues.

      New Jersey? Maybe. Money will not be a problem by TV rights will be a big deal.

      Portland? Is there a real interest? Not so sure.

      Charlotte? The mayor said this is not a priority.

      That's why Montreal is #1 on the list and another city outside of the US is probably the most likely scenario (like Manfred said a year ago). Once that said, Mexico is not perfect, distance, security and poverty are questions that need to be addressed.

      We need to wait the next 3-7 years to see how each markets will evolved and what are the real options/opportunities in the US.