749110506046_Rays_at_Orioles1Ironically, Howard Megdal of USA Today, has a new column titled “Fixing Rays, World Series doesn’t take a brain surgeon.” While it may not take a brain surgeon it does take a better understanding of the situation than demonstrated by Megdal.

Megdal offers two potential solutions to the situation:

“One is a league-sponsored initiative to build a stadium, centrally, in Tampa/St.Pete. The other is to pay enough money to get the Rays out of their lease and move them to Montreal.”

The first “solution” is not going to happen because owners are not in the business of giving up money that is going to do little to line their own pockets. It also ignores the fact that the Rays still do not have permission to build a stadium outside of St. Pete.

The second solution is not going to happen BECAUSE THERE IS NO LEASE TO BUY OUT.

As discussed many times, the Rays do not have a lease. They have a “use agreement” with the city of St. Pete. There is no buyout in the contract and it is far more complicated than just offering to pay whatever is left on the contract.

Based on the conversations I have had with several contract attorneys, the use agreement in essence creates a business partnership rather than a tenant-landlord relationship. That business partnership goes well beyond just the money paid by the Rays to the city for the use of Tropicana Field.

This is important because if the Rays try to break the contract, the city can potentially sue for millions beyond what is specifically owed in the contract, since the Rays would in theory also be hurting their business partner in other ways (e.g. revenue generated by the city by having an MLB team in downtown).

That doesn’t mean the two sides can’t negotiate a buyout. But there is little indication that the city of St. Pete has been willing to do that and nobody has any idea how much it would cost (a lot).

Who knows where this is going. But it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out it is a little more complicated than just buying out a non-existent lease.

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7 Comments

  1. Gus says:

    You are 100% right. As the former Mayor once said: One more year of baseball is . .. . one more year of baseball. It is invaluable to the City.

    But just playing hypotheticals, what is the TV contract in Montreal? I don't get the sense that the Blue Jays have a lucrative TV contract; throw in a bilingual hockey-first market, I can't imagine Montreal would be anywhere near a Tampa Bay/northern Florida TV contract.

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    • Andrew says:

      I think the blue jays are owned by rogers communications which is a huge telecom joint in canada.

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      • Franck says:

        Well, Montreal has the odd to be a bilingual market, that mean more revenue tv right potential!

        They have two huge bilingual telecom in Canada, Bell Media and Rogers/Quebecor.

        Franckly, I don't see how we can keep the Rays in Tampa if Montreal want them!

        They are bigger in demographic and they are eager about having a baseball team back.

        For now the Rays TV contract is amoung the worse in baseball. I can't see how a Montreal franchise could do worse!

        In fact, we should all wish them the best, they deserve a good team. Maybe not our team, but it's just a matter of time before we see that happen!

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  2. Bo says:

    The leverage here is MLB's right to terminate the franchise. I assure you it is in the agreement with St. Pete that if MLB kills the franchise, the agreement ends. Hence, the leverage for St. Pete to take a deal is when MLB tells it, directly or impliedly, that termination is on the horizon. Then, all the sudden, the buyout on the table looks pretty good. Look for this - it's coming.

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    • FortMyersDave says:

      Bo, the MLB union would go nuts if the Rays were contracted and who would go with them, Oakland who have stadium issues as well? I think there would be major litigation if MLB tried to move the Rays out of the Tampa area; now if the rays were to move to someplace like the I-4/I-75 Fairgrounds area or the ConAgra land on Nebraska in downtown Tampa that Vinik just bought or even the Carrillon/Gateway area by Derby Lane in Pinellas then I would guess some sort of accommodation could be worked out via compensation of some sort to the Pinellas side of the Bay....

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  3. Joe Dunn says:

    Vince should maybe looked better into the future and seen this coming??? Why did Rays sign such a long term partnership??

    How would St Pete have such leverage to demand this ??

    Don't you know people that are ALWAYS upside-down in their auto loans?? That sounds like what this is....

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  4. LargoRay says:

    This stadium talk is so old it makes me sick. When the Rays were doing good stadium talk and lack of attendance overshadowed any success on the field and it's really not fair to us long suffering Rays fans. This isn't going away any time soon. Building a stadium in Tampa is going to be hell. Stu is going to have to put up a lot of the funds because i'm sure Tampa residents don't want a repeat of Raymond James. There a many scenarios that could play out. All I want is progress to put all this spit behind us. A stadium in Tampa would be perfect. Not in Gateway and certainly not in Montreal.

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