The last couple of days were a whirlwind for the Rays and their fans. In the span of about 24 hours, the team went from tied 1-1 with the Rangers and coming home, to eliminated from the playoffs. And while we knew Stuart Sternberg and Mayor Bill Foster were tabling their discussion of a new stadium until after the season, we didn’t think that meant five minutes after the final out…
“I am frustrated this year…We’ve replicated last year [on the field] and our attendance numbers were down 15 percent and our ratings were down. The rubber has got to meet the road at some point here…This is untenable as a model going forward…When I came in here in ’05 and ’06, I saw the stars, and I was confident that we could put a winning product on the field — and I was told by you guys and others that all we needed was a winning team…Well, we won. We won. We won. And we won. And it didn’t do it.”
He’s frustrated. That is understandable. Still, it seems like a strange time to point that out after selling more than 63,000 tickets to a pair of afternoon games on short notice. After all, it is not like fans were making plans to attend playoff games two weeks ago.
But then Sternberg took it a step further. He suggests that the Rays might have done better in the playoffs if attendance was better…
“When you’re sitting here at this point and you lost by a run, you know another X dollars might have changed things…Three or five million wouldn’t have changed things necessarily but 15 to 30 might have. That’s where we were. And for the foreseeable future that’s what we’ve got.”
We can all have that same discussion we always have about whether or not the Rays are really making money, and whether or not Sternberg should be spending more money. We are not sure that is important right now.
Rather, this all just sounds like typical rhetoric by an owner that wants a new stadium, and he wants the people to help pay for it. It always starts with frustration. And then moves to threats of selling the team to an owner that will move the team somewhere else.
Oh wait. Sternberg has already moved on phase two...
It won’t be my decision, or solely my decision. But eventually, major-league baseball is going to vaporize this team. It could go on nine, 10, 12 more years. But between now and then, it’s going to vaporize this team. Maybe a check gets written locally, maybe someone writes me a check (to buy the team). But it’s going to get vaporized.
We’ve been down this road before. Major League Baseball is not going to contract the Rays. They (MLB) are just making too much money. But moving the team is a real possibility.
We’ve always said that this stadium situation will get uglier before it gets better. The uglier has begun.