Much has been made of our “proposal” yesterday in which we suggested the only regional answer for a new Rays stadium would be for Tampa and St. Pete to literally share the Rays. We never said it was the best idea, or even a good idea. We simply believe it to be the only way in which the Rays get what they want (a stadium in Tampa) and St. Pete doesn’t get royally screwed. And for all the criticism, nobody has proposed a better solution, or any solution for that matter.

So if you think the idea is “silly” or “dumb,” fine. We don’t have a problem with that. But if there isn’t a better idea for regional cooperation, then either the Rays are going to move, Stuart Sternberg is going to sell or the the two sides are heading for a lengthy and ugly court battle that will probably end with the Rays moving or selling.

Why? Because there is absolutely no reason for St. Pete to let the Rays out of their contract. Let’s face it, even if the two cities are somehow able to overcome their boundaries as Sternberg suggests, once the Rays move to Tampa, the Rays will be Tampa’s team and St. Pete, their residents and their businesses will be left out in the rain.

THE JUNKYARD DOGS WEBTOPIA

  • When asked after Tuesday’s game about the possibility of replacing Wade Davis with Jeremy Hellickson in the rotation, Joe Maddon said “That’s not been a discussion.” [Tampa Tribune]
  • Here is a goodd write-up on the Rays recent signee from Cuba, Leslie Anderson. [Mop-Up Duty]
  • Martin Fennelly says the Rays can’t afford to not make the moves necessary to get back to the playoffs this year. [Tampa Tribune]
  • Bill Conlin says baseball only belongs in Florida in March. [Philadelphia Daily News]
  • Aki Iwamura has accepted the demotion to triple-A and will not become a free agent…Also, did we know that Iwamura had a blog? It must be in Japanese. We feel like we let you guys down. [The Mainichi Daily News]

DOWN ON THE FARM

  • Check out Rays Prospects for boxscores and more detailed recaps. [Rays Prospects]
  • DURHAM: Richard de los Santos gave up 3 runs, but lasted only 2.2 innings, having given up 5 hits, 3 walks and hitting a batter…Desmond Jennings was back in the leadoff spot, going 2-4 with a double and his 17th steal…Matt Joyce was 1-4 with a double…Dan Johnson hit his 17th home run and drove in 4.
  • MONTGOMERY: David Newmann gave up 5 runs on 6 walks and 7 hits in 4 innings…Nevin Ashley hit his 2nd home run and Matt Fields added his 9th.
  • CHARLOTTE: (no games scheduled)
  • BOWLING GREEN: (no games scheduled)
  • HUDSON VALLEY: Devin Fuller gave up 2 runs on 3 hits and a walk. He struck out 2…Derek Dietrich was 1-4 with a double.
  • PRINCETON: Andrew Bellatti who was involved in an off-season car accident that killed another driver, made his first start of the season, going 5.1 innings, allowing 1 run on 1 hit and 2 walks. He struck out 5…Bryan Fogle went 2-3.
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16 Comments

  1. Amanda says:

    Cork, please refresh my memory: When the Rays came out with their stadium proposal on the waterfront in St. Pete, did the city stand behind them in that proposal? Here we had a franchise willing to go in half way on financing a beatuiful stadium, and I can't remember if the city was gung-ho for it, or did they spit all over it, siding with the 100 or so residents who were upset that their view of the waterfront would be disturbed? If it was the latter, then I think St. Pete deserves to get screwed. If it wasn't, well, I still think St. Pete is being selfish.

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    • Cork Gaines says:

      The mayor at the time Rick Baker never really came out for or against, that I remember. But my feeling was that he was for the stadium, he was just trying to hard to keep everybody happy. I also think he played his cards a little too heavy. For example, he hinted that he would be more supportive of the stadium if the team changed their name to "St. Pete Rays." Now, in hindsight, that is a silly reason to be for or against a $400 million project. But I think he saw an opportunity to try and better the deal, and in the end, his lack of open support allowed it to die at the feet of the city council who ruled that land could only be used as a park.

      So there are certainly people in St Pete to blame. The old mayor and a few city council members that were under the influence of a handful of rich people.

      If they had it to do all over again, I think we would see a different result.

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      • Amanda says:

        Thanks for the refresher, Prof. I couldn't remember how it went (and, don't feel like researching it right now ... lol). I still have a very bad feeling about all of this, that St. Pete is drawing a line in the sand that may lose the franchise for everyone. I don't care if the city foolishly built a stadium so they could steal a franchise from another location and eventually ended up with an expansion team. They're now trying to confine them to an antequated stadium that's losing the team money hand-over-fist. It just irks me to no end.

        On an unrelated note ... the stirrups are *AWESOME*!!!!! :)

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  2. MJ says:

    "Let’s face it, even if the two cities are somehow able to overcome their boundaries as Sternberg suggests, once the Rays move to Tampa, the Rays will be Tampa’s team and St. Pete, their residents and their businesses will be left out in the rain."

    And this is what I think will happen. I guess you could say it would be unfortunate. But Sternberg isn't in business for St. Pete, he's in business for himself. While Im sure there are several people in St. Pete who would love to have the team there, it sounds as if there are plenty of residents and politicians who could care less. And if the team whats business backing, they definitely need to move out of the St. Pete industrial park. The only business that will suffer is Ferg's.

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  3. Boxauthor says:

    Does location mean as much as accessibility? Like I said before, I live in Orlando. I don't want to leave a game at 10:30 PM and have to drive all the way back here. If I could step out of the stadium, hop on a train, get off the train and drive 5 miles to get home, I'd be open to going to some weeknight games. As it is now, Sunday is really the only day I have open to go see a game. I don't think I'm the only Orlando fan that feels this way.

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  4. Jim says:

    Having grown up in St. Pete and still having family there, my feeling is in general, the people of St. Pete could give two shits about the Rays. There are people like my brother and a few friends (die hard fans) but the majority are like my Dad (has only gone to games or watches when I'm in town). When I was down there a while back, there were signs all over people's yards "Vote 'No' on the new stadium". IMO, they had their shot at keeping them, and if they piss off Sternberg and fuck this up for the rest of the area, I'll be livid. St. Pete obviously is not supporting the Rays, so why make them stay there? Why not let them go over to Tampa?

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  5. Gus says:

    BoxAuthor: Move to St. Petersburg if you want to live 5 minutes away from a stadium. Plenty of houses for sale. Orlando tried to get a team in 1991, but its market was deemed too small. Trains would be nice, but we'll never see it in our lifetime.

    Jim: I think both Tampa and St. Pete people love the Rays. The TV ratings prove that. Who goes is a function of the economy first, and proximity second. Area is hurting.

    For Cork and those who weren't around in the 1980s and who now dream of regional cooperation, let history be your guide. The reason the stadium is where it is now and not in the Gateway area is a function of a couple of factors: First, the Tampa baseball boosters refused regional governmental cooperation 30 years ago. The Tampa folks promised that they would privately finance a stadium (sound familiar?) on the site of Al Lopez Field (where Ray Jay stands now), and would not play in Pinellas. The two sides were in hostile competion from 1981 or 1982 through 1990. After failing to acquire the Twins and otherwise doing nothing but talk for a decade, when it came time to file the application for the expansion franchise in 1990, this Tampa group, led by a nice local car dealer (Frank Morsani) didn't have any money. Morsani was in bankruptcy. Ultimately his group came to Pinellas because they knew they could never finance a stadium.

    At the same time, Pinellas leaders, having seen the international airport and the football franchise go across the bay, made a huge investment (at the time) and built the stadium in Pinellas. Because they felt like they had to get a stadium in the ground to get a team to beat the Tampa folks, they built on spec. We got the stadium we got because of regional hostility. They addded a roof to allow for other events and hedge their bets in case baseball didn't expand (hence the catwalks). The original Pinellas stadium proposal was open-air and covered with a white fabric, much like the Al Lang proposal from Stu's group. To cut costs dramatically and increase the political will (much was hostile to building a playground for millionaires back then, as now) the City offered its Gas Plant land on the edge of downtown for $1 for the stadium, so it was located there and not in the Gateway area.

    So the City threw in 77 acres of land, plus hundreds of millions in debt service on the Trop, the county threw in millions of dollars of tourist taxes for debt service and we get an original ownership group who didn't outfit the Dome properly for baseball with its $85M allocation, got the worst franschise in baseball for its first 10 seasons, got 3 seasons above .500 and now we're supposed to tear up every contract for some guy who doesn't even live here? Stu got the team cheap for the exact things he is complaining about now: tepid season ticket support (in part because prior ownership had killed it off before it could grow) and a facility that wasn't Camden Yards.

    I, like Cork, wish we'd see regional cooperation, but the fact is that the Bay is a psychological barrier for lots of folks. If Tampa people want the stadium closer, would they be willing to finance a stadium in the Gateway area? I don't think St. Pete/Pinellas people would oppose that. They would oppose having to pay for a second stadium 20 years into its life, however, merely on the assertion that more Tampa people would attend. If traffic is flowing, it is only 7 minutes from the Gateway area to the Trop anyway; maybe an extra 15 on game days (all sports stadiums have traffic congestion, contrary to what people in Brandon seem to think). It seems to me that the extra time inconvience isn't worth imposing some regional tax. But maybe it is? Othwerise, the new Tampa stadium financed by Tampa people will have to wait until closer to 2027, because no elected Judge in Pinellas County is ever going to let them breach their "use agreement".

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    • Boxauthor says:

      Gus,

      It's not about me living 5 miles from the stadium. It's ease of access for those in Orlando that would go to a game. I don't know about 1991, but for two seasons the Rays played a "home" series in Orlando, and to the best of my knowledge they were sold out here. Not all of those fans would go see the Rays all the time, but some of them would. And really, this is all about the numbers.

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      • Gus says:

        They did not sell out the last series in Orlando and quickly abandoned the idea. One of many ideas (the Florida Tuskers, Pat Burrell, the open-air stadium) that have kind of backfired on the geniuses. I give them credit -- they aren't afraid to try stuff. But if Stu is whining about losing money, just look to the Orlando series and the other 3 hairbrained ideas I listed above as money-losing idiotic decisions by the guys upstairs.

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  6. JaxRaysFan says:

    I love Pinellas County; it really has a lot going for it. I spent a chunk of my childhood there and would jump at the chance to live there again.

    That being said, the Rays clearly should be in Hillsborough County. Just look at the geography! It is in the middle of the west central Florida region. But beyond that look at a few facts I pulled off the Census Bureau's website:

    Families with children under 18:
    Pinellas - 20.4%
    Hillsborough - 29.5%

    Place of birth, different state:
    Pinellas - 57.8%
    Hillsborough - 42.5%

    Empolyment status, in labor force:
    Pinellas - 59.7%
    Hillsborough - 67.3%

    Median household income:
    Pinellas - $45,650
    Hillsborough - $50,384

    Earnings, including Social Security:
    Pinellas - 36.7%
    Hillsborough - 24.6%

    Median Age:
    Pinellas - 45.2
    Hillsborough - 36.6

    Total population:
    Pinellas - 915,079
    Hillsborough - 1,169,860

    These are just some basic stats pulled off the Census website, nothing fancy. Being centrally located in a populous region is key, but the types of residents in each county is telling. Hillsborough has more friendly demographics for a baseball team.

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    • Gus says:

      Those are good stats and confirm the reality -- if you were starting in a perfect world with no politics and no budget constraints, of course you'd play in Downtown Tampa, with grass, a retractable roof and nice waterfront views. But few teams end up where they should be in a "perfect world". $ is always a limiting factor on all human endeavors.

      In an ideal world, the Yankees would never have played the last 40 years in a god-forsaken part of the Bronx where no families live, that is difficult to get to, where the immediate zip codes were all below the poverty line. The Giants played for 30 seasons in frozen Candlestick Park. But they did. The Yankees signed up for another 40 years there because it was the best deal they could get, the best deal NYC could give them and because they had played out their lease. The Giants moved to a "perfect world" location and used lots of private money to finance it (which takes up $25M of their payroll annually)

      That's an instructive model for the Rays is seems to me.

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      • MJ says:

        The difference between those two scenarios and the Rays is that those "less than ideal" situations still provided a viable option for the clubs to be successful. The Rays situation is bordering on non-viable, unless they run their team like the Marlins I guess.

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        • Gus says:

          You would be correct as to the Yankees (but not the Giants) if you believe Stu that he is losing money on the Rays. I think most people are extremely skeptical of that position. His real argument seems to be: but I could be making a ton of money if I could break my contract and move the team to the 5 better markets or to a new stadium in Tampa.

          Here is the other fallacy in this whole thing: If the Rays commit say 1/3 of the cost of the new stadium (on the Al Lang proposal, I think it was $150M), then they, like the Glazers and Man U, have to pay that debt before they pay the can run the team. You are talking $10-15M a year there, at least, to service that. Do the math -- 50% increase in attendance at $20 a ticket gets you, maybe $18M more a year in gate (at $20 a ticket). Of course, a new stadium wouldn't increase attendance that much, so it makes it all kind of silly.

          He should sell the team if he can't live up to his team's contract.

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  7. Thad says:

    I really hate watching the Rays right now. Not fun at all. Glad we have day game today to get it over with. The ONLY silver lining is that the torrid start bought us some buffer room to have a crappy 30 game stretch, but it has to end soon or 2010 = 2009.

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  8. Carey says:

    Very disappointed about the comments re. Hellickson. I'm not sure if this is a money thing (service time) or that Maddon is just "spinning" (obviously Wade wouldn't like hearing an affirmative on that question). Hopefully the latter. I mean what the hell could it hurt? Going down may be good for Wade (didn't seem to hurt Cliff Lee or even Halliday when they were sent back) and I don't see where Hellickson could be any worse than Wade has been the last month.

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  9. Alex says:

    It shoudn't be a service thing with Hell boy. Anyone going for super two status had that problem removed at the beginning of June. That's why Strasburg and Stanton were called up. Its the Rays doing their usual feel good, we don't hurt anyones feeling bs. They'll put Davis on the DL with something and call Hellickson up eventually. Davis needs to go. He can't control his freaking fastball. He's Kazmir with no strike out ability. He kills the bullpen and he's not some super prospect that we need to stick with. We have a better option.

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