Ten years ago, the idea of a Major League Baseball team in Orlando was whispered, but rarely did anybody take it seriously. Sure the team would be able to draw from the tourists, but it would be difficult to build a core fanbase, and outside of Disney, there wasn’t much of a corporate base.

But now, that may be changing.

In a recent column for TampaBay.com, Robert Trigaux writes about Orlando’s emergence as a major player in Florida’s economy…

Plenty, it seems. Orlando is cultivating businesses faster and smarter than Florida’s other metro areas. Consider this recent Reuters story: “Orlando is leading Florida out of recession and expanding so briskly the city best known for theme parks is poised to push aside Miami as the state’s fastest growing metropolis for at least a generation”…Orlando alone generated 23,000 jobs in the year ending in February of the 50,000 jobs created in Florida.

So, if you are Stuart Sternberg and you feel that St. Pete won’t build you a new stadium and you have decided to move the team. Is Tampa still your first choice, or do you keep driving up I-4 and take the Rays all the way to Orlando?

And even if Sternberg is still intent on keeping the Rays in the Bay Area, if Orlando business leaders come calling and offer you a new stadium with a retractable roof, don’t you at least have to at least listen?

 
 

9 Comments

  1. Carey says:

    I’ve been saying this for a while now. I do business in both markets and there is one thing that really puts Orlando ahead of Tampa Bay: Cohesiveness. They operate as a region and they operate collectively. And there is just as much corporate presense there, perhaps more. For what I do, there are more “elephants” in that market than Tampa.

    They also have a better airport as well. Not in terms of ease (Tampa is #1 there), but in direct flights, nationally and especially internationally.

    I call Orlando the last hope to keeping them. Foster is such an A-hole that he’ll see them leave alltogether rather than go to Tampa and the area as a whole operates like a bunch of 4-year-olds in a sandbox.

    Let’s put it this way. If Microsoft announced it was looking to relocate its corporate HQ to Central Florida, Tampa and St. Pete (and maybe even Clearwater) would get busy pissing all over each other and Orlando would step in with a regional approach/effort and steal them right away from us.

    That Orlando would do the same with baseball is no joke, but reality. And given the adolescent mentality of some in this area (St. Pete), I’m all for it. Beats all the other alternatives.

    Conspiracy theory: The name “Florida,” I believe, becomes available next year. Hmmm.

  2. Ian says:

    When you move to the team to Orlando, you acquire the entire Central Florida base, including Daytona, Melbourne, and heck, maybe even Ocala.
    You don’t have that when the team is in Tampa or St Pete.

    You can’t underestimate the corporate base in Melbourne. Just look at the relationship that the Magic have with Melbourne’s Harris Corp for instance.

    • Carey says:

      Yep. Harris is huge. Lots of defense contractors in the area as well and all the big IT firms. On that note, compare UCF’s research zone to USF’s. Not even comparable.

    • Carey says:

      Also, check my conspiracy angle. I’ve always said that for the Rays to survive, or more important, thrive, they need to build a huge TV base. The “Florida” Rays, based in Orlando could be big. I would declare everything North of I-4 and west of I-75 “Florida” Rays country and I think it would sell. As far as the rest of the Florida is concerned, the the 561, 954 and 305 might as well be a different state. And the Marlins going with the “Miami” moniker next year can only help this.

  3. Jessica says:

    Gee if only there was a high speed rail that would link both of those areas. Imagine what it could do for businesses and sports teams alike…oh, nevermind.

  4. StPeteDave says:

    Magic owners used Tampa as a bluff to get their new digs, Rays could do the same.

    And why is Foster in the wrong for wanting to keep the Rays in St.Pete, Tampa didn’t contribute or pay taxes to get the Rays. So why is it Tampa’s divine right to have them now?
    I would rather see them contract or go to Vegas then to Tampa.

    • Beth says:

      I think reference to the King Solomon story is relevant here — you’re the one who’d want to cut the baby in half! You’d rather have the team move to Las Vegas than move 15 miles across the bay? Well, you are certainly providing evidence for Carey’s claims, above, about why the Tampa Bay region is doomed to remain second-rate.

  5. Joe D. says:

    Interestingly my friend sent me this today, maybe a, little orlando perspective on baseball, albeit minor league.

    don’t forget orlando has a new arena, losing money that’s considered the crown jewel of the NBA, and Sternberg was somewhat unhappy with the disney games…

    http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/politics/os-mike-thomas-baseball-yankees-0505120110504,0,931116.column

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