Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Breaking News: Rays Will Spend More Money on Stadium if Someone Gives Them More Money

This isn't breaking news. In fact, it isn't even news. And even the facts behind the headlines you're seeing this week don't even seem to be all that accurate.

But after everyone in town was reporting that Stu Sternberg was now offering up to $400 million toward a new Tampa stadium (he wasn't), it's worth posting the link to John Romano's Monday column on that non-offer offer.

Romano pretty much echoed what this blog wrote last week: the Rays definitely aren't getting a $25 million/year naming rights deal in Tampa, so they definitely aren't offering "halfsies" on an $800 million stadium:
It would sort of be like wondering if injured pitcher Nathan Eovaldi is going to win 25 games this year.

"You get me 25 wins from Eovaldi, and we’ll win the World Series.’’

If Sternberg had said that, everyone would laugh.

And you should probably laugh at the $400 million, too.

I’m not suggesting Sternberg was being untruthful or playing word games. In fact, I think his overall position has been remarkably consistent from the beginning.

As far as the Rays are concerned, the funding of the stadium has always been a sliding scale proposition.

If, for instance, team officials are convinced they can make $50 million a year more in Ybor than they are making in St. Petersburg, then a $400 million investment is not outlandish.

If it looks like their revenues in Ybor will only go up $15 million a year, then even a $150 million investment is less attractive.

Philosophically, that is the message Sternberg made in November, and it’s the same message he delivered at Tropicana Field on Thursday.
I guess the big question is, how executives who have been so astute to statistics, prognosticating, and getting every little edge possible can claim they don't have legit estimates to share on what kind of new revenues a new stadium will bring them.  Sternberg and Brian Auld have both told me that over the years.

I also find it hard to believe an astute businessman is going to all of a sudden commit tens of millions of dollars more to a project if a nonprofit group secures non-binding "commitments" from local businesses to buy tickets and luxury boxes.

Most importantly, if projected new revenues from a stadium right now only warrant a $150 million contribution from the team ($12 million per year, or so), why should the public spend $50 million a year when it will only increase Rays payroll by say, $15 million a year?  It'd be better to just cut the team a check each season to cover operational expenses.

That's why my 2012 post on how many fans the Rays really need to make a difference has aged so well.





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