You know that group that has been investigating the viability of various locations in Tampa and St. Petersburg for a new Rays stadium? The group that apparently has zero authority whatsoever? Well, they released their initial findings, and they are about as bad as can be.
On the possibility of renovating the Trop…
…the Tropicana Renovations committee concluded that Tropicana Field needed to be renovated to be “a viable, marketable baseball facility.” However, such renovations were so costly…it was not worth taxpayers’ dollars when a new stadium could be built for a little more money.
On financing a new stadium…
The finance committee said Florida law complicates stadium financing and many of the creative ways other teams financed ballparks would be unavailable to the Rays. However, many teams have been successful with coming up with innovative financing ideas…and then convincing legislature to change local laws…The group speculated that in Tampa Bay, several million dollars a year could be readily available through state loans, tourist taxes, and other revenue streams, but the gap between available funds and the required funds is perceived to be great.
On the potential fanbase…
only 19% of Tampa Bay’s population lives within 30 minutes of Tropicana Field…Rays’ V.P. Michael Kalt elaborated. He said the 19% was “way below” any other team in a similar-sized market and “in the bottom-five if not dead-last” in the Majors…approximately 455,000 of the team’s 1.8M fans in 2008 came from out of the area (out-of-state or other parts of Florida), meaning the team likely averaged fewer than 17,000 local fans per game in 2008.
But the biggest blow comes via Aaron Sharockman. who has some more details and suggests moving out of the Trop may be the biggest hurdle.
- Selling Tropicana Field during a recession doesn’t make financial or practical sense.
- Financing a ballpark in Pinellas or St. Petersburg is difficult because the city and county are still financing the construction of Tropicana Field through 2016…
The most interesting news of all this is the quote from Kalt, because that gives us more insight into the mindset of the Rays. Similar to Matt Silverman’s quotes a few weeks ago, it is clear the Rays no longer want to be in downtown St. Pete.
So then the obvious question is: Why did the Rays think a new stadium on the St. Pete waterfront was such a good idea? That is the question the Rays are going to have a difficult time justifying.
Group releases findings on keeping Rays in Tampa Bay [10Connects.com]
Tampa Bay Rays, St. Petersburg and Pinellas County are in no position to sell or renovate Tropicana Field, group says [St. Pete Times]