Monday, July 25, 2016

Why Hillsborough Remains a Rays Stadium Longshot

There's been lots of talk in the last week about Pinellas County's list of 10 specific sites the Rays may want to consider for a stadium, based on the basic criteria set out by the team.

This blog has long pointed out that anyone with a pile of dirt thinks they have a chance at landing a stadium.  But most of them are silly...even though Tampa Bay residents won't agree on which ones are silly:
I've always said you could poll 100 Rays fans about where they'd like to see a new stadium built, and 100 would agree they'd like one built closer to where they live.
But that point was echoed this weekend by a John Romano column that said there really are only two sites the Rays can consider - Downtown Tampa and adjacent to the current stadium in Downtown St. Pete. 
But that doesn't mean a move to Tampa is a foregone conclusion. There is not a perfect plot of downtown land available, and funding in Hillsborough could be tricky.

So, yes, Pinellas County is most definitely in the picture.

But you have to understand how the Rays view this. By itself, a shiny new stadium will not change the franchise's fortunes. If it's built in Pinellas, the Rays' new home has to have some way of drawing the Tampa crowd that has never flocked to Tropicana Field.
Romano goes on to say Derby Lane promise the best hope for that, except it doesn't have the highway infrastructure to ever get fans to the stadium quickly enough.

The columnist may not be aware the Selmon Expressway is expected to be extended to the Gandy Bridge by 2020, providing a lightning-fast, ride free of traffic lights from Downtown Tampa to Derby Lane.  And that the state is connecting Derby Lane to I-275 in Pinellas County with a set of overpasses, set to be completed within just a couple of years.
So don't write off Derby Lane just yet.

But Romano continues with the option of last (and most probable) resort in his mind:
And that pretty much leaves Tropicana Field's land. Between the interstate access, the growing hipster scene in St. Pete and the possibility of redeveloping the extra acres with destination-type amenities, it's Pinellas' best bet.

In baseball scouting terms, it has the highest upside.

Now this doesn't mean the Pinellas list was a waste of time. On the contrary, it served an important purpose. It successfully pointed out what should now be obvious.
The most fans are in Hillsborough, but the money's in Pinellas.  And I have a sneaking suspicion which one the Rays will ultimately choose.*

*If they choose either option at all

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  1. Look for a Port Authority deal to re-locate the downtown Tampa flour mill over to the Port, which will provide even better rail and water access. Stadium to go where flour mill is now. Port has ad valorem taxing authority and can make it happen.

    1. Likely cost-prohibitive:

      And the timing may be prohibitive too:

      Then, Vinik would have to sign off on it:

  2. It's like going into an old video store, you knew what movie you wanted to rent, but always found yourself looking over all the rest of the movies before renting the movie you initially went in for, we all did it, lol...
    Let's be real, it's downtown Tampa or nothing...

    1. "Let's be real, it's downtown Tampa or nothing..."

      So nothing it is

  3. I still hark back to what Stu said in 2010. "Baseball has not-and will not work in downtown St. Pete". I don't think his thinking has changed one bit!

  4. John Romano stated in his column:
    "The Rays are not going to gamble on a compromise site, and neither should taxpayers who will have a financial stake in this."
    and he further stated:
    "There is not a perfect plot of downtown land available, and funding in Hillsborough could be tricky."

    Regarding funding for a new stadium for the Rays, it is really depressing for us taxpayers to hear the media folks accepting, without challenge, that we have to help pay for the stadium. How about we consider the reality that MLB/Rays need not a dime of public money for anything.

    MLB and the Rays can easily afford to pay 100% of the $600 million or so for a new stadium in Tampa Bay.

    Per in 2001 total MLB revenues were $3.58 billion ($4.8 billion in 2015 dollars) and 56% of those revenues went to players’ salaries.

    In 2015, total MLB revenues were $8.39 billion and just 45% went to players’ salaries, even with the many ridiculously stupid long-term contracts that are negotiated, and you can now add the recent new contracts of David Price, Zack Greinke, Jeff Samardzija, Max Scherzer, Jon Lester, Elvis Andrus, Kyle Seager, Jordan Zimmerman, Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, Johnny Cueto, Giancarlo Stanton, and Chris Davis, and Stephen Strasburg to the list.

    So revenues (in 2015 dollars) after deducting for player salaries were $2.1 billion in 2001 and $4.6 billion in 2014. That is an increase of $2.5 billion which averages out to $83 million per team. To build a $600 million stadium costs just $34 million per year assuming 4%/30 year terms.
    What have MLB and MLB owners done with all this extra money? Keep in mind that their slice of this ever growing pie will continue to get bigger in the coming years.

    During the Bud STEALig era (1992-2014), 21 new MLB stadiums were built, 20 of which received substantial public funding. Not only did 20 MLB clubs get lots of public money, not even one of them opened their books to show why they needed public money!

    For taxpayers to pony up even a dime for a new stadium for any team is obscene. That is like providing publicly funded college scholarships for Warren Buffet’s and Bill Gates’ kids.

    It is time to change the narrative from how much will taxpayers pay for the new stadium to “Why should the taxpayers have to pay anything for a new stadium?

    1. Maybe Romano was subtly suggesting taxpayers shouldn't be paying for a new Rays stadium? :)

    2. If he was, it was so subtle that it went right over my head:)

  5. Part of profits goes to charity.