Yesterday, Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn appeared on “Happy Hour with JP Peterson” on 1010 Sports. Obviously the big topic of conversation was the Rays and their future. Here are some of the more telling comments. You can listen to the entire interview below…
His position on a Rays stadium:
The Rays and the city of St. Pete are going to have to resolve their issues. There is a contract. There are ways out of contracts. And there are prices to be paid for breaking contracts…My personal opinion is that [the Rays] will [leave St. Pete]. I think the Rays have made it clear that that is not a stadium they want to play in. The numbers don’t work. This is a business…They’ve got to have numbers that work. If that divorce comes, or more specifically when it comes. This community has to decide if the Rays are a regional asset that we want to keep. And I firmly believer that we do…[The Rays] deserve our best effort to try and keep them here…I think downtown Tampa is the best location for [the Rays].
On the Rays future:
It is my belief that at some point the Rays will leave St. Petersburg…and I absolutely want to be ready that happens.
On what the Rays need to be successful:
We need to find a way as a region to help [the Rays] become successful…If there is going to be a new stadium. The model for success is largely corporate ticket sales and corporate suite sales. And the ratio that the Rays enjoy is completely upside-down by comparison to other cities. We need more corporate involvement. I need the business community to get involved in this.
On financing a new stadium:
In this economic environment, I think a vote (on financing a stadium) would fail miserably. I don’t think you’re ever going to see a deal like the Glazers got at Raymond James Stadium…The model these days seems to be significant owner money, and I underline significant, private equity money, as well as the local jurisdictions doing infrastructure around the stadium to assist.
On light rail servicing a new stadium:
It has to be in the formula somewhere.