In my latest piece for Business Insider, I wonder if fans would be more willing to commit tax dollars to new stadiums if they were given ownership of the team in return. This is particularly relevant to the Rays as they seek a new stadium in the Bay Area during a tough economic period.

In Forbes’ most recent valuations of Major League teams, they listed the Rays’ value at $316 million. Would the citizens of Tampa or St. Pete be more willing to finance a new $500 million stadium if the Rays gave the city (or cities) 20% of the team (~$60 million)?

In addition to the potential for increasing the value of the team and the city’s investment, there would also be the added reassurance that the team could not up and move with the city as a minority owner.

Would this work? Maybe not. But we do know that if the Rays want a new stadium in Tampa or St. Pete, they are going to have to be creative with the financing, or it will never happen.

If Teams Want Fans To Pay For Stadiums, They Should Give Fans Some Ownership [Business Insider]

 
 

6 Comments

  1. Greg says:

    I don’t think MLB would approve a move like that because they want their teams to have the leverage of being able to move. But beyond that, MLB doesn’t want their respective teams’ financials released (as we’ve seen when they were recently leaked) and that’s exactly what would happen if the city had partial ownership.

    • Beth says:

      Of course MLB wouldn’t “go for it,” because team owners benefit from accepting public largesse while ducking public accountability. But it’s exactly that two- faced quality that irks me about these “should we build them a stadium” discussions.

      If baseball franchises are completely private enterprises, ithey should build their own damned stadiums. They can seek the sorts of public subsidies many private companies can — tax abatement; public investment in infrastructure; help from local government securing state and local tax benefits.

      If baseball franchise owners think they are entitled to a publicly financed stadium, however, then they apparently see their teams as public amenities. But then that requires opening the books to public scrutiny and understanding that the public sector is entitled to participate in any financial “upside” from this investment in the form of an equity position or some other means of revenue sharing.

  2. zenny says:

    The idea sounds good, and it’s to the arrangement in Green Bay, where the city took control of the Packers years ago. But after that, the NFL changed the rules so that municipalities could no longer own franchises.

    I don’t know if MLB has a similar rule, but I agree with Greg – Selig and the owners probably would not approve a deal that keeps a team locked in place.

  3. d-money says:

    Why would you even waste your time writing this? No owner of any business would ever go for something like this.

    This is pretty much the most ridiculous idea i have ever heard.

    The Rays have already said they are willing to put $150 million of their own money up. That’s all you are going to get out of them.

    Its pretty simple. It may not be fair that teams expect the city/county to buid them stadiums but the fact is they do. So either build it and they stay or don’t and they go.

    At the end of the day they are a business and they just want what every other owner in the league has recieved. Don’t blame the Rays for expecting to be taken care of by a system that wasn’t created by them.

    If you want to blame someone blame all the city and county leaders around the country who have given in to these teams time and time again just to get them to stay or to get a team. Hillsborough with the Bucs/Lightning and Pinellas county bringing the Rays here to begin with included.

    And just like twenty years ago when we were trying to get the Giants or the White Sox here somewhere there is a city that wants a team and will build whatever they want for them and the cycle will continue.

  4. Pendulously says:

    And I assume the city would have no problem contributing their share of a capital call should the team be running in the red or want to sign a free agent?

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