Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Morning(s) After: Rays/Hillsborough Fallout (Pt. 3)

More perspective on things said in - and following - the Rays' meeting with the Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners:

STU STERNBERG: We welcome tough questions because we want the information out there.
The Rays' principal owner told commissioners he wanted to show his hand, but there has been no indication the team will "open its books."  Sternberg also had no hard numbers for Commissioner Victor Crist when there was a question of whether the Rays had been sandbagging their marketing efforts in recent years.  However, with no advance notice, I'm not sure how realistic it is for the team's owner to know numbers off the top of his head.

STU STERNBERG: I intend to (fulfill our current contract, but) I'd be surprised if that were the case; but I intend to.
It was a confusing answer to Commissioner Ken Hagan's question about the team's current use agreement with St. Pete, set to run through 2027.  The best interpretation is that the Rays will stay at The Trop as long as they legally are required to, but they're counting on cooler heads to prevail and find a replacement before then.

MICHAEL KALT: "At the end of day, Major League Baseball is a retail business and you need to be in a location that people can get to easily."

I don't know how much the Rays have followed other Hillsborough County issues lately, but there has been a big stink about proposed subsidies to another retail giant, Bass Pro Shops.  Hillsborough Commissioner Mark Sharpe said, "Bass is old-school retail...If we were going to give incentives, I wish the money would go to high-tech jobs."  While there is a difference between Bass Pro and MLB, the Rays could hurt their cause by pointing out that they're a retail business.

NOBODY: It will take this amount of public dollars of public help to build a stadium.
The only mention during the commission meeting of how a stadium would be financed came from  Hagan, who said "there would never be another sweetheart deal" like the one that built Raymond James Stadium 100% on the public dime.  After the meeting, when I asked Sternberg how much it would take to get a stadium done, he said, "I don't know." I asked if they'd looked into how much they'd commit and he said no.

Even if you believe the Rays don't know what a new stadium would cost or how much they're willing to put into one, one thing is clear: they don't want Tampa Bay to focus on how much a new stadium would cost, just what it would cost to lose the team.

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