My apologies for not blogging more lately, but my real job comes first...and, well, there hasn't been much Rays stadium news lately.
But that all changes every year at this time - it's All-Star Weekend in Miami!
OK, so there still probably isn't much news on the Stadium Saga front to report, since Hillsborough doesn't have any money to buy the team a stadium and all legit Pinellas options probably hinge on late-August's St. Pete mayor's race.
But I'd still expect MLB Commish Rob Manfred to carry on the league's rich tradition of using the Mid-Summer Classic as an opportunity to manipulate/scare fans into action on stadium sagas. This blog has been tracking the tradition since Bud Selig in 2010.
Just don't give the comments the time of day; Selig never did "intervene" in the "inexcusable" situation he was concerned about...and even Manfred admits creating a boogeyman, like Montreal, helps pressure cities like Tampa and St. Pete.
UPDATE: Manfred says MLB won't expand until it can no longer hold relocation over heads of T.B. & Oakland
But the great irony in whatever Manfred implies about Tampa Bay's "problems" is that the host of the optics are far worse for the hosts of the All-Star Game, the Marlins.
The Associated Press penned a piece from Miami identifying some factors that have hurt both Marlins' and Rays' attendance, including ballpark location and a transient fan base.
But while the Marlins have a sparkly new ballpark that didn't accomplish much other than lining Jeffrey Loria's pockets with public dollars, the Rays are actually drawing much better TV numbers.
Neither the Rays (15,680 avg) nor the Marlins (20,904) are doing well at the gate, per your annual All-Star Break attendance update.
UPDATE: Manfred says TB better market than Montreal right now and is "hopeful" for progress
Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Times' John Romano writes "Tampa Bay could learn from Miami's stadium fiasco" and public dollars should only be spent in conjunction with "a provision requiring a percentage of profits be split with local governments if the team is sold."
That would be wonderful and all, but it kind of undermines the reason teams seek public support: to boost the value (and thus sale price) of the franchise. If the team has to share profits with the public, it may as well just take out a mortgage and fund the thing itself.
I agree with Romano that this kind of agreement would go a long way toward earning Stu Sternberg a place in Tampa Bay fans' hearts again. But I just don't see it happening.
At the end of the day, the Rays' next step may ultimately depend who wins the Rick Baker vs. Rick Kriseman mayoral battle.
Kriseman has already offered up significant subsidies to keep the Rays downtown, but Baker has not shown the same willingness.
It may be no coincidence then that the Rays have financially supported Kriseman's re-election campaign.
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