749110506046_Rays_at_Orioles1The Tampa Bay Rays and the City of St. Pete appear to be nearing a deal that would allow the Rays to “explore new stadium sites in Hillsborough County” and a deal could be reached before Christmas according to Stephen Nohlgren and Charlie Frago of TampaBay.com.

Meh. That’s nice, I guess. But wake me when there actually is a deal. And even then, that doesn’t mean the Rays can actually build a stadium in Tampa.

But there is one very fascinating point in this article that is huge. We may soon know how much it will cost for the Rays to break their contract with the city:

[Council Chairman Bill] Dudley, who meets with [St. Pete mayor Rick Kriseman] weekly, said one critical element would be monetary compensation for the city if the Rays leave for Hillsborough before 2027, when their contract to play at Tropicana Field expires … ‘I don’t know what the number is,’ Dudley said, but added that city lawyers are working on contractual language ‘to protect our interests.’

Dudley doesn’t know what the number is, but Nohlgren and Frago provide a little bit of insight into what it might be.

According to the report, during the Rays’ previous negotiations with former mayor Bill Foster, the team was offering “around $2 million to $3 million” for each season left on the contract and the city wanted “about $5 million.”

Let’s play with the numbers.

The Rays’ contract with the city is through the 2027 season. Let’s assume it takes 18 months to find a location and figure out how to pay for it. That means the city of Tampa would break ground for a new stadium in mid-2016 (we’re being optimistic here, but humor me).

Marlins Park took about 2.5 years to build.

If we use this rough schedule, that would mean the Rays could potentially move into a new stadium for the 2019 season.

That means we are talking about the Rays needing to buy out nine years of their contract and it would cost somewhere between $18 million and $45 million based on where the two sides were during the Foster negotiations.

Of course, that goes down the longer this drags out, but at least we now have an idea of what a buyout might look like.

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8 Comments

  1. techstar25 says:

    In case you are a Montreal billionaire, $45 million US is about $51 million Canadian.

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  2. Horse Power says:

    At least they are now taking the Montreal threat seriously. I do agree that they need to be in Tampa.

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  3. Dave L says:

    So the City could allow them to explore in Hillsborough County exclusively? The Rays would give them the power to dictate and limit their ability to move only to Hillsborough? Otherwise the deal is null and void if they find a better place?

    Keep in mind Montreal is in another country with its own court system and they may not recognize such an exclusive op out and rule that an out is an out, no matter the final destination of the franchise.

    Im not a lawyer but that sounds weird.

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  4. styx says:

    Why say meh? It's a process that takes time. I know we live in a world of instant gratification, but real world issues can't be fixed over night. Big boys know that.

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  5. NC says:

    I see you acknowledged your aggressive timeline. Thirty months to build seems reasonable, but eighteen to identify a place, put together plans, and arrange the financing is the unreasonable part. For the Marlins that was the tricky part. This article from the LA Times in 1997 documents quotes from Wayne Huizenga that he was in a new stadium mindset even back then
    http://articles.latimes.com/1997/nov/07/sports/sp-51330

    It wasn't until 2009, two ownership groups later, when the Marlins secured a location and financing for their new home.

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    • Gus says:

      Miami was more than 5 years when you go back to site location, environmental impact studies etc.

      Stadiums are tough deals to put together. The quickest deal is to build a stadium in your existing parking lot (because all of your transportation infrastructure is in place). Even Miami benefited from that becuase they built on the Orange Bowl site.

      A waterfront downtown Tampa site (which I think in a dream sceanrio everyone thinks would be the optimum) is at least 5 years out. But by the City foolishly giving the Rays a low # to buy out, I for the first time think they are leaving (and probably leaving Tampa Bay).

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