Buried in the middle of this piece at ESPN.com by Howard Bryant, is this little nugget…

According to sources, baseball commissioner Bud Selig has instructed Rays management not to make significant financial investments in the area until attendance indicators improve, suggesting the team could be investing in potential relocation sites.

The rhetoric from both the Rays and the city of St. Pete will almost certainly escalate this off-season. And at some point, the Rays will announce that if they can’t get a new stadium that fits their needs and demands, they will be forced to explore options in other cities. And Bud Selig may have already given them permission to do so.

Again, this is going to get much uglier before it gets better. If it gets better.

 
 

39 Comments

  1. Sarah says:

    Most of this season the onfield Rays have been compelling enough to allow me to ignore the off-field grumblings — although I must say when Stu Sternberg gave press interviews about problems with Trop attendance standing AT YANKEE STADIUM in the midst of a series in which his TEAM WAS FIGHTING FOR FIRST PLACE I did get furious.

    But now the on-field performance is just as bad as what’s going on off field. I’m just depressed. I guess I’ll go read about the economy to cheer myself up.

  2. Hilarity N. Suze says:

    Is anyone questioning the low attendance in Oakland, Toronto, Florida or Cleveland? We all know Pittsburgh and their losing ways but is anyone questioning them moving? Ownership and the media is blinded by attendance numbers as being the “it” story in baseball. Stu needs to realize that owning a professional sports team requires spending money to make money. Cutting payroll next season is going to further complicate the attendance numbers and improve the chances of the team leaving (exactly what Stu wants). If the team added payroll next season and battled the yankees and redsox like they did this year, I believe the fan base would grow. It’s not looking good for next year.

    • Edward says:

      By all means, increase the payroll. We need more 20 million a year players. I never have understood the attraction of watching multi-millionaire adults running around throwing a ball. Obviously they only care about the money and are willing to leave at the drop of a hat. Are you building a fan base loyal to individuals or to the name Rays. I surly don’t need to be identified with a name. If I’m going to spend my money on entertainment, it will be based on something more substantial than the support of a name.

      • KillaTapes says:

        “We need more 20 million a year players”

        I get it, you’re not a sports fan, and/or you’re not a fan of the amount of money that goes into sports. BUT- the Rays F.O. has never been keen on spending a lot of money (in the grand scheme of things) on one player.

        They rarely go out and make a large purchase on the free agent market, and when they do, it’s almost always in the lower spectrum of what other teams pay players.

    • Andrew says:

      If by Florida you mean Miami then the Marlins did complain and are getting a new ballpark.

      • Mary says:

        Marlins are getting studium because owners were stashing money and never told mlb.

        • nate says:

          Not true..

          Baseball teams prepare financials for a variety of audiences: owners, debtors, MLBPA, and MLB. MLB has always been privy to those financials leaked by Deadspin. They kept their financial status a secret from the CIty and County. MLB was party to the marlins scheme. They are in the know on all their teams’ financial status. Its a requirement.

    • Jason says:

      Two things:
      One, Oakland, Toronto, Florida and Cleveland are not playoff contenders. The fact that only 10000 people show up during a playoff hunt is pathetic.
      Two, your argument about increasing the payroll doesn’t make since to me. Stu added almost $20mil to the teams payroll this year but did the fans show up?

  3. Edward says:

    It’s a business. As a business I hope the owners do what’s in their best interest. As for the political aspect, keep you nose out. I do not want my tax dollars to go for a stadium where a profit making entity is involved. Put it in the school district and the infrastructure where it belongs. If that causes the Rays to go elsewhere, so be it.

    • MJ says:

      If you knew exactly what your tax dollars went to, i bet youd be upset many times. I dont think an extra few dollars to this would be that big of a deal to people. I guess its just principal that you cite for thinking this way. But if you like the Rays and like baseball, i think this would be just as good a use of a few of your tax dollars as many other things the govt wastes your money on.

        • Edward says:

          Do your research on the stadium debt that still lingers after the teams have long gone. Baseball is a business, if they want to build a stadium, reduce the ludicrous payrolls of the players. Anyone that has owned and run a business understands the relationship between expenses and the bottom line. I also like to read books, however I am not in favor of having my tax dollars pay barns and nobles rent. Either the Rays are a business or they are not. If we are going to go in that direction, I might as well come out of retirement and go for the free bucks you have suggested we spend.

          • nate says:

            The “baseball is a business” cliche holds little water with me. Some owners treat it as a business (bottom line oriented), and some owners are just rich guys that treat it as a hobby. Check out the latest news on Manchester United. They’re P&L is getting killed, but the Glazers are fine with it. Because they’re rich guys who have a hobby. The owners who view baseball as a business typically field bad teams.

  4. Marc says:

    I’m already over this. If they want to leave, then leave. Good freaking luck finding a city to build a ballpark and sell it out long-term. Vegas? Worse economy than ours. Charlotte? Maybe. Nashville? Ha – they’re about to lose their NHL team. It floors me that Oakland, Cincinnati, Toronto, Cleveland have generations of fanbase advantage, draw even or worse and there’s no peep about them moving. Florida has been an attendance debacle since the beginning, they won 2 World Series and there was never serious talk of moving them. Not since Art Modell have I seen a team’s ownership make such pointed jabs at the local fanbase and I can’t ever recall a team trotting out the two star players to whine about it.

    This area thrived before baseball and once the economy picks up, with thrive without it if that’s what happens. I can always go back to my childhood favorite team (that Cincy team that has a 130 year advantage on the Rays and draws about the same).

    • Morgan says:

      I agree with you. I’m not going to lose sleep. Instead of going to the 20-25 games each season at the Trop, I surely can find another way to spend my disposable income. I can also follow any MLB long distance via the internet stream, direct TV, or even in person by being a tourist in another city 2-3 times a season.

    • It’s people like you two that get’s people like myself called bandwagon jumpers, you two should be ashamed of yourselves for making those kinds of comments, either cheer the Rays and be fans through thick and thin, or move on. We don’t need bandwagon/fair-weather fans….

      • Marc says:

        Oh grow up. “Bandwagon” has nothing to do with this issue. It has to do with reality. If the team moves, people won’t be crying in the streets and throwing themselves off of buildings. The reality is that the team as been here all of 12 years and most of us followed other teams before then. I don’t want them to move, but if the Rays ownership and MLB think the area can be extorted then they are very very mistaken, and if they think there are greener pastures somewhere else, good freaking luck.

  5. Steve says:

    I wonder if ESPN commentators and other pundits ever feel dirty about they way they assist MLB in squeezing communities to make rich owners even richer. It really feels like the end of an error for competitive baseball in St. Pete. The team will be there but the ownership’s goal now is to strangle it to the point that nobody will care when it goes. Then they’ll point to the even lower attendance as evidence that the area won’t support the team. I think back to where we were in the late 80s and early 90s, and attending the press conference at the Trop to hear about the Giants deal and it really saddens me that it can go so quickly. In the long run the City is going to miss having a “measly” 24,000 people going into downtown 81 times a year. I really hope the ownership tries to remain competitive but it sure seems like the battle lines are drawn and if this team didn’t win it all, they were going to slash payroll to the point of absurdity.

    • sarah says:

      I’m afraid I have to agree (although I assume you mean “end of an era” although “error” is a nice slip). Up until the middle of this season I took the ownership at their word that they were genuinely trying to build something here. Since the last month or so of this season I feel like they’ve given up and now need to score points at the expense of the region and the team’s fans. I’ve even started to wonder whether some of the “attendance, attendance, attendance” broken record national reporting isn’t in some way manipulated by the ownership, MLB or both.

      But the St. Pete Times had a great article a few months ago where they pointed out that there aren’t many places the Rays could go that are better than our region. Yeah, it’s possible that the NY region could accommodate a third team, but the Mets and Yankees would sure fight that (esp as the Mets have been playing to some pretty thin crowds lately). Las Vegas, Charlotte and Nashville aren’t any better than our area. Either baseball thinks about contracting, or they learn how to make it work in regions like ours.

  6. Preston says:

    Look at all of you saying “Just go”. What fans. This is sickening. I’ve said it many times, this area does NOT deserve a baseball team. It’s not a “business” per se, it’s a give and take situation. If this is how you people view this team, it SHOULD move. You are the most entitled fanbase I have ever seen.

    • Preston says:

      That’s not directed at everyone here. Just the large number of people saying “good riddance” already.

    • sarah says:

      Preston, I’m not at all saying “just let them go.”

      But please explain to me how this is not a “business” per se. There’s an owner, he has expenses, he takes in revenue, he makes a profit. What part of this is not a business?

      • Preston says:

        A baseball team is much more than simply a “business” to a region. It’s an asset. A damn good one. Just ask Ferg. The give and take is the benefit that the Rays give the community. Do they make money? They sure do. A lot? Yup. But Sarah really my issue wasn’t with anything that you said. Taxpayers don’t want to help pay for this asset? Alright, but don’t bitch about them moving to a Tampa. I was furious at the response to the downtown waterfront stadium plans. I loved it. It was modern, it was gorgeous, and it would have been a great place to see a baseball game. What was the reaction? “Hell no, I’m not paying for that. I don’t want an outdoor stadium! But I hate the Trop! Domes are stupid!” It was ridiculous. To me, a great team and a great stadium are assets to a community that you really can’t measure with numbers. The Rays Baseball Foundation does so much good for the community, a number of players support local charities and causes. This is about more than just dollar signs. This is what I meant by the “give and take”. An extra 1% on your sales tax, or The Trop. Possibly worse, a relocated team. Give, and take.

    • Marc says:

      It is not worth it if the team takes a not-so-subtle stance against the community and fanbase. It is not worth it if the team deliberately under-reports attendance, bashes it’s own stadium (and then whines when not enough people show up in said stadium), trots out star players to complain about attendance (then promptly play their worst baseball since the early years)…all while the whiny owner can’t even show up to more than handful of games himself.

      I don’t want them to go. But I’m not going to cry if they do. They haven’t been around long enough (much less been good enough over their 12 years) to warrant the deep-seated, in-the-blood loyalty that they seem to think they’re entitled to. The Rays are still halfway through their first generation of fans. If they leave, they’ll be dealing with the same issues again 10-15 years down the road if they keep the same mentality. This area would love to have the Rays stay and become a fixture for generations. But if most folks are like me, and I think they are, we won’t be bludgeoned with scorn and threats to keep them. I’m 37 years old and I followed another team the first 25 years of my life. Then the Rays came. I can always go back to my old team if they leave.

  7. chris says:

    Anyone else think this whole situation remins them of the original “Major League” movie

  8. Joe says:

    This whole situation reeks. It’s out of control right now and yes, the owner and the media are to blame here. It is outright bizarre why wouldn’t the owner defend the market? It is his investment! MLB is supposed to be a partner to the cities of Tampa Bay and of the three major sports, they have supported the area directly the LEAST!

    Sternberg is now taking orders from Selig?! I am a Rays fan, yes, but I am more importantly a TAMPA BAY fan more importantly!!! How about as a starting olive branch, why not put TAMPA BAY back on the road uniforms next year? There is so much animosity and hostility its earth shattering. If Sternberg wants a stadium, be like Zygi Wilf in Minnesota and double and triple down. Keep Crawford and Soriano and CONTINUE to put the PRESSURE on!! But no!!!!!!! We hear how there are five better cities than Tampa Bay!!!! I am a Tampa Bay fan, NUMBER ONE!!!!

  9. I grew up in Connecticut in the 60′s. Half of the people loved the Red Sox and half loved the Yankees. I was a Sox fan, my dad was a Yankees fan. He never attended a game in Yankee Stadium in his lifetime. I attended one game at Fenway Park. Until the Devil Rays arrived, I was a rabid fan of Boston. The Red Sox never shamed me for not seeing them in person. I have attended several Ray’s games but my family doesn’t share the fascination. My son is 18 years old, he could not care in the least if the Rays packed up and left for Anchorage Alaska. All of his friends could care less about professional baseball. My two daughters agree. I believe baseball is on a descending slope as far as attendance and popularity. When I was a teenager, I lived and died for baseball, today’s kids don’t care. Professional baseball is like the farmer that forgot to rotate his crops, fertilize the fields and save any seed. Like the St Pete Times newspaper, that grows thinner and thinner, the customers are dying and the children have no concept of what a newspaper is. When the oil and poisonous dispersant starts washing up on the beaches and the evacuation notices are posted, will anyone actually care about the freaking Tampa Bay Rays????

  10. Justin says:

    Orlando Rays… I said it a year ago and it is time to say it again. The city of Tampa doesn’t have the money for a stadium and we all know that St Pete was a bad idea. We just have to keep them in FL and in a new market, but close enough to keep all existing Tampa fans.

  11. Tone says:

    Fuck the owners and fuck MLB. They are all rich dickheads who squeeze communities for every last dime. I lived in NYC during the new Yankee and Mets stadiums. You would not believe how shady that debacle was. The city paid for everything and got nothing in return. They are all criminals. If they want to disparage my hometown, THEN FUCKING LEAVE! I say call their bluff. If they leave, so what? Do we really need an ownership with total contempt for our area? Fuck Stu, I don’t think their options are anywhere near as good as they make them out, hence these awful tactics.

      • sarah says:

        What exactly is that supposed to mean?

          • Tone says:

            Whoa, hopefully that is just a weird joke. Yes, there are plenty of Jewish studio heads ect…, but they are not Zionist. If you are serious, then you are a damned Nazi. The real problem with MLB and the Rays owners is their total greed. Stu being from Wall Street is not helpful either, especially since he was part of that lovely time period when regulation was even more corrupt. Nazis are the devil in human form. You should hang out with Mel Gibson, and then you should both drive off a cliff.

  12. Sasquatch says:

    Bud Selig is a jackass.

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