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Saturday, February 09, 2019

Commissioner says MLB is open to new Rays stadium in St. Petersburg

The Brinks truck wasn’t big enough.

Manfred said he was “disappointed” the Rays and Tampa leaders couldn’t work out a deal for the Ybor site by the Dec. 31 expiration of the “free look” agreement. He sent a strongly worded letter to Hillsborough officials pointing out how their offer was incomplete in advance of the Rays announcing in December that they were ending talks.

Jim Furtado Posted: February 09, 2019 at 07:35 AM | 33 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: rays, stadium financing

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   1. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: February 09, 2019 at 08:46 AM (#5813905)
I don't have an opinion on the following question: If there was a great baseball stadium in the Tampa area, would baseball succeed there? And does the unusual experience of Miami baseball instruct the answer to the question about Tampa?

It is easy for those of us who live far from Florida, and think of it as a place to spend a week in the winter, or to retire, or where crazy news stories always seem to take place, and be like, "Florida is all the same". But Miami and Tampa are obviously both big, and different - is there a scenario where baseball in Tampa-Orlando would truly thrive?
   2. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: February 09, 2019 at 08:59 AM (#5813906)
I don't think so. First of all, baseball isn't really that popular here. Secondly, a large portion of the population is from somewhere else. I've lived here 25 years and I could give a rats ass about the marlins, and I think that would be true even if they were a quality organization.I was a mild fan of the Rays when the Cubs were wandering in the wilderness about 10 years back, but it never really took.
   3. Bote Man Posted: February 09, 2019 at 10:13 AM (#5813917)
South Florida is roughly equivalent to Northern Virginia, with about one-tenth the brain power. It's almost like a separate state. Miami is generally younger and more conscious of style than Tampa, which is generally older and more conservative. I would expect Tampa to have more traditional baseball fans, but the sheer number of Cubans and folks from Caribbean Nations that love baseball around Miami has to be big. So this speaks to the Marlins' inability to market to a willing audience.

True, the Marlins did establish a section for raucous fans to make noise, but being cordoned off in a "fun ghetto" snacks of being disingenuous.
   4. Benji Gil Gamesh VII - The Opt-Out Awakens Posted: February 09, 2019 at 11:17 AM (#5813931)
I wish all cities would collude and agree to tell sports team owners and leagues to go pound sand with respect to public money for their ####### stadiums.
   5. McCoy Posted: February 09, 2019 at 02:00 PM (#5813960)
McCoy says he’s open to being given a billion dollars.
   6. Walt Davis Posted: February 09, 2019 at 03:41 PM (#5813975)
Please don't start sending out strongly worded letters when you don't get it.
   7. The Duke Posted: February 09, 2019 at 03:45 PM (#5813976)
Atlanta has the same issue as Florida. Everyone is from somewhere else, but they manage to pull it off. They have worked hard to create a fun culture at the ballpark.

My parents in law live close to Tampa and try to go it it’s a bit too far to get there and get back in one night. I don’t think it’s for lack of fans that these teams don’t do well. I wonder if they would do better if they played day games under a roof. An older clientele might be more attracted to day games
   8. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: February 09, 2019 at 09:47 PM (#5814013)
This has been hashed out a million times before, but Tampa has other problems besides the "people aren't from there". There's not a real population center and there's a big ass bay in the middle of the metro area, so anywhere you stick a stadium is going to be inconvenient for at least half of the population. There's less money there than in most markets -- it has the lowest median household income among the 25 largest metro areas in the US (Miami is second-lowest). By per capita income it's 3rd worst in MLB, ahead of Pittsburgh and LA. By gross metropolitan product it ranks ahead of Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, KC, Cleveland, and Milwaukee, and is about the same as Austin, TX, and behind Charlotte and Portland. There isn't a lot of big corporate money there. The population skews old in much of the market and a lot of people are on a fixed income.

It's never going to be anything but a bad market. The question is: is there a better market out there? It's not obvious to me that there is.

EDIT: Just to take the Atlanta comparison, ATL has almost twice the population of Tampa, without a big honking bay in the middle of it, and the per capita income is about 25% higher than that of metro Tampa. Apples and oranges.
   9. Walt Davis Posted: February 09, 2019 at 10:52 PM (#5814022)
I have no idea how many people in Atlanta are from Atlanta (I'd guess it's no worse that most cities) but I'll take a guess that a lot of folks in Atlanta are from the region and even more from the south in general. The Braves had the entire south pretty much to themselves -- some competition from Baltimore, Cincy, St L and Hou/Tex for the border areas -- until Fla and TB came in ... and neither of those is really a southern city. If you were a baseball fan in NC, SC, Ga, norther Fla, Alabama, Tenn, E Kentucky, SE Miss, E La, you were very likely a Braves fan in the 60s-90s ... and still today.

Unlike football, basketball and even hockey, MLB has left the S/SE pretty much alone. Never even an attempt in Raleigh, Charlotte, Nashville, Memphis or New Orleans.
   10. McCoy Posted: February 10, 2019 at 07:41 AM (#5814044)
The new Neve for sun trust park should be a real humdinger. As far as corporate names go it was inoffensive and easy to remember.
   11. McCoy Posted: February 10, 2019 at 09:06 AM (#5814046)
The new name. Damn Swype
   12. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: February 10, 2019 at 09:55 AM (#5814060)
Just move the goddam team to Montreal and get it over with. Florida is for Spring training games when northerners want to escape the snow and ice, period.
   13. Tony S Posted: February 10, 2019 at 10:25 AM (#5814063)
Well, there's a big-ass bay between San Francisco and Oakland, and that metro area supports two teams (one of them, admittedly, an attendance bottom-feeder), so I'm not convinced that's precisely a problem, though I'm sure it doesn't help. Of course, Northern California is much more affluent than Florida.

But where could the Rays move TO? I can't think of any other southern city with a strong enough economy to support an MLB team. Other possibilities I guess are Portland (wealthy enough, but likely too small), Long Island or New Jersey (the Yankees and Mets would squawk). Montreal does seem like the best bet, and they do have a history of supporting an MLB organization that tries to win.

MLB likes to keep a city in reserve for a team to threaten to move to if it doesn't get a free stadium from the local taxpayers. Washington filled that role for decades. There isn't any obvious option now, which works to the TB ownership's disadvantage....

   14. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: February 10, 2019 at 11:35 AM (#5814079)
Well, there's a big-ass bay between San Francisco and Oakland, and that metro area supports two teams (one of them, admittedly, an attendance bottom-feeder), so I'm not convinced that's precisely a problem, though I'm sure it doesn't help. Of course, Northern California is much more affluent than Florida.

The A's drew as much as 2.9 million in the Bash Brothers era. Other than in their first season, the Rays have never come within a million of that.
   15. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: February 10, 2019 at 12:16 PM (#5814092)
The SF-Oakland metro area is about 60% larger than metro Tampa, with double the media household income and a much higher population density in the core. Yes, high cost of living, but also tons more disposable income and a much younger population. Oakland by itself is about the size of Tampa + Clearwater; SF proper is bigger than Tampa, Clearwater, and St Petersburg combined. I should also note that San Jose/Sunnyvale/Santa Clara isn't in the SF metro area. Metro San Jose is 2/3 the size of metro Tampa, and about the same drive time from the Giants & A's as the #4 and #5 cities in the Tampa metro area are from the Trop. Again, apples and oranges.

Even with a much better stadium, Tampa's going to be a bottom 5 market no matter what. The problem is that anywhere else (Charlotte, Portland, Montreal, San Antonio) is also a bottom five market as well, and moving the team is basically writing off Florida for a generation. If there was a low-hanging fruit it would've been plucked by now.
   16. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: February 10, 2019 at 12:25 PM (#5814094)
The problem is that anywhere else (Charlotte, Portland, Montreal, San Antonio) is also a bottom five market as well, and moving the team is basically writing off Florida for a generation. If there was a low-hanging fruit it would've been plucked by now.

Metro area populations, 2018:

Montreal 4.0M
Charlotte 2.5M
Portland 2.2M
San Antonio 2.2M

Pretty big gap between Montreal and those other three.
   17. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: February 10, 2019 at 12:40 PM (#5814099)
Montreal has a history and unique cultural issues, and also issues with having and income in Canadian dollars and expenses in USD. But it's also biggish and (if I'm converting currencies right) has a median household income above the US national average. I have no idea how it would play out. In reality, it has the best chance of being a solid market among any of the open cities, but it could just as easily be a flop. It's high variance. If I'm moving the Rays then that's where I'm taking them. That said, I can't imagine the city spending much public money on a stadium and I can't imagine any private group spending much to build something there.

(San Antonio, beside being smaller than the other three I mentioned, is the poorest of them as well. I only bring it up because at one point that Rays seemed serious about moving there, and because Texans seem to be willing to spend stupid amounts of money building sports stadiums.)
   18. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: February 10, 2019 at 12:44 PM (#5814100)
Yeah, I agree that with Montreal a stadium is going to be a problem. But if they could ever find a credible owner, it'd be a 1000% improvement over anything in Florida.
   19. The Yankee Clapper Posted: February 10, 2019 at 01:36 PM (#5814110)
There's not a real population center and there's a big ass bay in the middle of the metro area, so anywhere you stick a stadium is going to be inconvenient for at least half of the population.

You're saying they should fill in the bay? Brilliant! Surprised the locals haven't already latched on to the idea - lots of graft opportunity on a project of that size.
   20. depletion Posted: February 10, 2019 at 01:56 PM (#5814116)
If they're going to put a team in Montreal it should be in the AL East to get fans from Toronto to come by 8 to 10 times a year. The same dynamic would help the Blue Jays gate. If Tampa still has a team after Montreal gets one, then they should put it in the NL East to get a rivalry going with the Marlins.
   21. Ginger Nut Posted: February 10, 2019 at 08:45 PM (#5814197)
If they're going to put a team in Montreal it should be in the AL East to get fans from Toronto to come by 8 to 10 times a year. The same dynamic would help the Blue Jays gate.


Um, people are not going to drive or take the train or whatever from Toronto to Montreal to watch a Blue Jays game. They just aren't. It is a minimum 5 hour drive, depending on traffic, and traffic in both those cities is usually terrible.

People around here like the Blue Jays, but not that much. A team in Montreal should expect to get exactly zero attendance from Toronto.
   22. McCoy Posted: February 10, 2019 at 08:59 PM (#5814199)
People travel quite a bit to see their team here in the US.
   23. Ziggy is done with Dominican discotheques Posted: February 10, 2019 at 09:22 PM (#5814203)
There's not a real population center and there's a big ass bay in the middle of the metro area, so anywhere you stick a stadium is going to be inconvenient for at least half of the population.


You're saying they should fill in the bay? Brilliant! Surprised the locals haven't already latched on to the idea - lots of graft opportunity on a project of that size.



Nah, they're just going to stick the stadium at the bottom of the bay. I mean, the team is already underwater, why not?
   24. depletion Posted: February 10, 2019 at 11:51 PM (#5814224)
GingerNut: Thanks for the geography lesson, perhaps I should have said that Blue Jay fans from eastern Ontario (Ottawa for example) could be expected to pad the gate.
   25. Ginger Nut Posted: February 11, 2019 at 11:51 AM (#5814284)
#24: Fair enough. I actually live in Ottawa (expat Californian). When I said "around here" I meant, mostly Toronto but also, vaguely, Ontario--I should have been more precise. It's true that Eastern Ontario is a lot closer to Montreal, and there is a decent population here (Ottawa itself is about a million), but it's still a solid trek to get to Montreal--with the traffic, which presumably would be bad around a baseball stadium on game day, you have to allow about 2 hours to get to your destination. I would probably go to a game in Montreal, but then I'm someone who is reading Baseball Primer, so.... I'm just skeptical that many people from anywhere in Ontario would go often enough to make a difference. If I were going, I would probably want to make it part of a weekend getaway and spend the night. For most people, just to go to a game, I don't think that they would drive two hours (or perhaps 90 minutes, being optimistic) just to see a baseball game, in a region where MLB probably comes a distant fifth in sports fan interest, after the NHL, minor hockey (Ottawa 67s games are really popular), CFL, and even basketball--anecdotally, I know more people who follow the Raptors actively than the Blue Jays.
   26. Jay Seaver Posted: February 11, 2019 at 12:28 PM (#5814289)
Um, people are not going to drive or take the train or whatever from Toronto to Montreal to watch a Blue Jays game. They just aren't. It is a minimum 5 hour drive, depending on traffic, and traffic in both those cities is usually terrible.


Maybe not a single game, but a weekend series? I mean, that's a bit longer than the drive between Boston and New York, which admittedly also have a lot of transplants for other reasons (how many Torontonians are going to McGill?), but it certainly seems like the sort of situation where a natural rivalry can help both teams, although obviously neither one is going to want to depend on it (or is really going to want to be the Orioles/Rays and have the reputation of a place fans of the other teams in the division take over). It's not like this sort of geographic rivalry has tended to hurt teams in the past, and Montreal's having a past history probably makes it more likely that people will embrace the new team rather than sticking with the old one.
   27. Der-K: at 10% emotional investment Posted: February 11, 2019 at 12:32 PM (#5814292)
Ottawa: fwiw, that city did a pretty bad job of supporting AAA ball, though i was under the impression that that might have been because of high ticket/other costs (which itself might have been related to union stuff? - i dunno, i'm not Canadian)
   28. Ginger Nut Posted: February 11, 2019 at 01:07 PM (#5814310)
I went to an Ottawa Lynx game shortly after I moved here. It was really cool, at least as I remember it--tickets were cheap, the stadium is relatively nice, and we sat a few rows from the field, near home plate. Got to see Hayden Penn pitch, and was a few feet away from Quinton McCracken when he was waiting to bat. I don't really know why they moved, but there is now an empty, pretty nice, centrally located minor league stadium that has not had a major-league affiliated team since then.
   29. Der-K: at 10% emotional investment Posted: February 11, 2019 at 02:24 PM (#5814362)
there was talk of a aa team moving to the park a few years ago (which i think was the right level to begin with?) and that some seats would be removed/the park refurbished, but that obviously didn't happen...
   30. Ginger Nut Posted: February 11, 2019 at 04:19 PM (#5814410)
Yeah, AAA definitely seemed to high. I would think A or AA would fit the market better.

But it also seems like since the border had gotten more difficult to cross, maybe it isn't worth it for major league teams to locate their minor league affiliates in Canada. It must take quite a while to get a busload of baseball players, all from different countries, through the checkpoints. It would get old having to do that for every road trip. But, if the Blue Jays had a minor league team here I think that would actually do quite well in attendance.

A quick scan of the minor league standings--there don't appear to be any AAA teams remaining in Canada.

Wikipedia saved me some work: Vancouver (single A, Blue Jays) is the only MLB affiliated minor league team left in Canada. Gone are the days when fans could root for the Pioneer League Medicine Hat Jays against the Calgary Expos (later replaced by the AAA Calgary Cannons).
   31. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: February 11, 2019 at 04:38 PM (#5814415)

I was in Seattle for a wedding last year when the Blue Jays were in town, and it seemed like the entire city of Vancouver had driven down for the series.

Nah, they're just going to stick the stadium at the bottom of the bay. I mean, the team is already underwater, why not?

Put the stadium on a cruise ship. That way if the fans don't show up you can more easily move the team to another city.
   32. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: February 11, 2019 at 04:41 PM (#5814416)
Vancouver's AAA team was moved to Sacramento after 1999.
Calgary's AAA team (Marlins affiliate at one point - not ideal location) was moved to Albuquerque after 2002.
Edmonton's AAA team was bought by Nolan Ryan and moved to near his house after 2004.
Ottawa's AAA team was moved to Allentown after 2007.

Lethbridge's Pioneer League team was moved to Missoula after 1998.
Medicine Hat's Pioneer League team left the Pioneer League completely, after 2002 when the Blue Jays decided they'd rather have a team in rural West Virginia.

St. Catharines's NY-Penn League team left for New Jersey after 1999. This was the Blue Jays again committing treason against Canadian baseball tradition. The NY-Penn League also had teams in Hamilton and Welland (basically the same place as St. Catharines, which is basically Niagara Falls) in the 1990s.

Vancouver's AAA team was replaced by a Northwest League team that is still there. No other affiliates.

And those were just the major Canadian cities that still had teams recently.
   33. Der-K: at 10% emotional investment Posted: February 11, 2019 at 09:31 PM (#5814490)
But there’s the Canam league in the east (Indy ball) and Winnipeg has drawn quite well with its club.

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