In a Q&A with Bud Selig, the commissioner was asked about the possibility of contracting the Rays should they fail to land a new stadium…
No, I wouldn’t. I think we have moved past that.
We’re going into 16 years of labor peace. I regard that as maybe the prime reason for the growth of the sport.
I love the new ballparks. I love revenue sharing. I love interleague play and the wild card. But I don’t think we understood how those labor confrontations were damaging us, whether it was 1972, 1973, 1976, 1980, 1981, 1985, 1990 or 1994.
There is no question that both of those teams need new ballparks. We’ll just have to work our way through it. Tampa has done a marvelous job running their team. [General Manager] Billy Beane has done a terrific job in Oakland. With the economics of baseball today, you’ve got to have a new stadium.
Contraction was always a silly idea and we have long been surprised it got so much play. Yes, baseball operates, in part, as 30 different businesses. But in reality it is one entity. And that entity makes a LOT of money. Sure the Rays have attendance issues. But if they were contracted, MLB would lose nearly 2 million ticket sales each year and X millions in merchandise sales. Why would they do that?
Florida is a huge market. And it is still a relatively untapped market for Major League Baseball. There is money to be made. Contraction not only misses out on that opportunity, it costs MLB money it is already making.