Thursday, November 24, 2016

Rays Want You to Know They (Supposedly) Prefer Tampa

As predicted in 2009, the Rays are seemingly encouraging a tug-of-war between Pinellas, which has more money, and Hillsborough, which has more fans.

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Friday, November 11, 2016

Chris Archer Echoes Self-Fulfilling Prophecy Theory

As if he had emerged from the scenes of the movie Major League, Rays ace Chris Archer suggested Thursday the team's low payroll was impacting the psyche of players:
I get it. We might not be capable of spending with the Yankees and Red Sox. But if we keep harping on it then it permeates the minds of the players. And we don't want the players to think that we're at any competitive disadvantage.
Archer's comments echo the longstanding theory on this blog that ownership's years of lamenting have created a self-fulfilling prophecy, of diminished fan interest in attending games.

If you bash it, they won't come.

Of course, the team's quick willingness to remind fans they may be considering a move to Montreal (as predicted here in 2009) does nothing to stop the attendance death spiral.

But the most interesting thing I read yesterday came from  It's either the most insightful - or the most ignorant - paragraph on the Rays' future. Indiana-based Matt Snyder suggests he knows when the Rays' renegotiated TV deal - previously set to expire this offseason - will end, even though the team has refused to provide any details:
Getting a better television deal -- their current deal runs through 2018 -- and moving to the Tampa side in an outdoor (retractable roof?) stadium would probably help matters and enable the Rays to push up into the low-20s in payroll and that's probably all they'd need to be more consistently winning.
Snyder's suggestion that the Rays' payroll would surpass 6-8 teams - if they only had a new stadium - also seems far-fetched.  But weirder things have happened.

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Monday, November 7, 2016

Rays Stir Pot with Non-Denial Denial of Montreal Rumors

Who needs to hold public discussions on when you've got an unsourced rumor from a Montreal sports reporter doing your bidding for you?
If true, it seems to be a violation of the spirit of the team's agreement with St. Pete...and possibly a violation of the letter of the contract too.

But in true MLB fashion, never let a good rumor go to waste!
By refusing to deny the rumors, the Rays are not-so-subtely reminding Hillsborough and Pinellas elected leaders that they miiiight leave if public subsidies for a stadium aren't available here.

After all, you don't get a stadium built for you without first creating leverage.

UPDATE: MLB is also doing its part to stir the pot...and encourage Tampa Bay baseball fans to question their team's commitment to the area:

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Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Tampa vs. St. Pete Tug-of-War Heats Up

This is why Bill Foster didn't want to just let the Rays look at ballpark sites in Tampa without restrictions. I wrote in 2011:
What has been offered is a region-wide search for a better location and Foster already knows what that would yield: a Tampa vs. St. Pete tug-of-war.
And sure enough, in 2016, after the Rays have conducted months of behind-closed-doors meetings with elected officials, the tug-of-war is exactly what we have as Tampa and St. Pete both prepare "competing" offers for a new stadium.

That only serves to benefit the Rays, who are naturally looking for as generous of a public subsidy package as they can get.

And how do you get that?

By creating leverage.

This blog has spent seven years explaining how competition between cities benefits Rays, not taxpayers...and how inevitable a tug-of-war between counties was if the Rays were allowed to control the conversation.

Then-mayor Foster even asked in 2011 for more regional collaboration from then-candidate Bob Buckhorn...but there's been almost none between Hillsborough and Pinellas leaders regarding the Rays.

According to the Times' Steve Contorno, Hillsborough Commissioner Ken Hagan "said the Rays have not yet said how much they are willing to contribute toward a stadium," so the county is trying to find additional revenues (mostly from taxes) that could be contributed toward a stadium.


Maybe we shouldn't be surprised; this is the same Ken Hagan who has spent the last six years "evolving" from his "no public dollars" for a stadium pledge. Contorno writes that Hillsborough could consider a TIF district (which involves property taxes), raising rental car taxes (which were already raised recently), a concessions or ticket tax (which comes out of the team's pocket), selling development rights around the stadium (which could cost the county if it's a land giveaway), and of course, begging the legislature for state tax dollars.

Meanwhile in Pinellas... the Times' Charlie Frago and Mark Puente write about the "battle" St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman is waging with county leaders over how much of a new stadium bill each municipality would potentially foot....but Kriseman responded to the article by calling financial discussions "premature": It's not like St. Pete has any other pressing needs for its tax dollars....

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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Get 'yer Stadium Subsidies Herrrrrrre!

Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan knows if you repeat a lie enough, people will believe you.

But it's still unconscionable that he'd keep repeating a job claim he was nationally lampooned for in 2013.

Mitch Perry reports:

At least the $1 million in Hillsborough County bed tax money will be better spent on this "heads-in-beds" event than it would be on a straight-up subsidy to another local rich guy. 

But it also serves to debunk another Hagan claim - that bed tax dollars can only be used on stadiums and tourism-promotion.   By now, readers of this blog know bed tax dollars can help pay for a bevy of community needs related to Florida's largest industry, tourism.
In other news, I reported last week how the Bucs were seeking state dollars to help subsidize their Raymond James Stadiums renovations - and how they then planned to raise ticket prices again when completed - but it turns out they'll be the only applicant this year after Florida's legislature rejected all applicants in each of the last two years.

And up in Oldsmar, those big-dreamers actually have their act together pretty well when it comes to a possible Rays stadium. There are plenty of politicians in St. Pete and Tampa with financial ties to interests that don't want an Oldsmar stadium. And by no means am I suggesting it's ideal.

But the irony is that pro teams appear to be trending toward stadiums OUT of the downtown core, so they can control more of the ancillary development.

And if local politicians are serious about working together to keep the Rays long-term...and they're serious about giving them public dollars to do it...Oldsmar appears the only place where both counties could contribute dollars to a stadium effort without breaking their respective banks.

Just don't feel bad for those poor MLB owners...they continue to rake in the revenues by the billions (and growing).

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