Andrew Friedman had a funny comment about hitting the lottery with the Dodgers payroll.

From the outhouse to the penthouse, I guess.

THE JUNKYARD DOGS WEBTOPIA

  • Apparently the Rays and the city of St. Pete “are nearing an agreement granting the team’s long-standing wish to explore new stadium sites in Hillsborough County.” This is according to “people who have talked recently to the mayor.” [TampaBay.com]
  • The Rays continue to interview candidates to be manager. Roger Mooney speculates on how important experience is. [TBO.com]
  • The Diamondbacks are one team the Rays have talked to about trading Jeremy Hellickson. [Steve Gilbert]
  • Joe Maddon’s new restaurant in south Tampa, Ava, will open for seven days starting on November 20 as a kind of dress rehearsal. [TBO.com]
  • Cliff Floyd was recently on “MLB Tonight” and relayed a couple of stories about the Rays in the 2008 World Series. I feel like I have heard the first but had never heard the second. I tried to find video, but came up empty. Here is Dave L’s description: “He spun 2 stories totally unrelated to actual games but about events leading to the final game after the rain delay.  One was about Phillies fans making noise at 5 am outside the Rays Delaware hotel before the completion of the final game. The second was he Longo and BJ having to sprint through a gauntlet of heckling Phillie tailgating fans after leaving a gridlocked taxi pregame.” What a clusterf**** that trip to Philly was.

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10 Comments

  1. Gus says:

    I believe the City is making a grave mistake if it agrees in any document to $ damages if the Rays terminate the Trop lease early. The Rays have worked them for years, and finally bought off the new mayor to agree to it.

    Here is what I see is happening:

    Rays now look to Tampa, where they find local governments unanable (and maybe unwilling) to finance the complete cost of a new stadium. If the Rays want out of Tampa Bay, no deal will be good enough. Their best location is going to be met with stiff resistance from a rival sports owner (Vinik) who does not want 81 Rays dates eating into his corporate sports ticket sub-market in downtown Tampa.

    Rays will pronounce Hillsborough a failure, declare Pinellas (who has more ability to finance a stadium) unsuitable for MLB and pack up the moving trucks. Pay off the City for $50M (the value the City has agreed to in its own agreement)-- a ransom easily paid when they cut a deal with their new suitor (regional TV network and local government)

    The only hope of keeping them in town -- by legal injunction -- is made dramatically harder when you have spelled out your damages in a lease amendment. It also may be harder to keep them in town when they have fled the country (which may explain in part why Montreal has emerged over Nashville, Portland and other USA cities as the purported desitination).

    Unless there is a deal cut in Tampa (and I doubt there is), this may be the begining of the end of the Rays in Tampa Bay. And would explain a lot of the events of the last month.

    Completely idiotic by the Mayor and the City of St. Petersburg.

    I hope I'm 100% wrong. I fear I'm on to Stu all too well.

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    • JD says:

      I hope you wrong but in the end I really can't blame the Rays. I go to 10-15 games a year and it really is a pathetic experience. When I moved here 10 years ago I was so excited about having an MLB team here. The sad truth is the stadium is joke, the seats are empty, and the overall feeling at the game is not a good one, even when they are playing well and on top of the standings. A new stadium is a must for them to continue to play here and I find it sad that the Tampa Bay area has been unable to work together to figure this out. It is a St. Pete vs. Tampa thing which is the wrong approach for the long term viability of the sport.

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      • Gus says:

        My observation is that is the half-empty building which hurts the experience. It is the lack of bodies in the seats, not the building itself, which is the #1 problem with the experience. Or put another way, the Miami baseball experience is, in my view, far worse than the Tampa Bay baseball experience, and they have a state of the art stadium.

        Putt another way: opening day 2014 was fantastic; the next night, it was such a bummer (no hits until 9th inning, no crowd). But it is ownership's job to fill the building.

        Because the Rays have always been angling for a new stadium since the Sternberg group took over in 2006, I feel like we've never had a series of years where the fan base has been grown properly. If you keep stating publicly the building is bad and in a bad location, that the team is going to be vaporized, that your best players must be sold (even though your team is in the black before the first ticket is sold) pretty soon your customer base is going to believe you.

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        • OriginalTom says:

          Any evidence to support your claim that the team makes money without selling tickets?

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          • Gus says:

            Cork had it on the site a while back. From the Deadspin stories where the leaked financials of the Rays (and a few other teams) were published. Central Fund revenue has increased since then as well, so they are probably even more in the black to start. It is what drives the Yankees and Red Sox crazy.

            Attendance isn't that big of a money driver. At an average of $20 a ticket, every million fans is roughly another $20M (not all of that is net profit, but that is a decent estimate). So the difference between sub-optimal attendance in the Trop of 1.8M fans and a 3M fan attendance (probably the max Tampa Bay could ever do) is only $24M or so. When you figure they were going to be on the hook for $15M in stadium costs each year for the AL Lang proposal (which is probably higher now since a Tampa stadium has no land or infrastrucutre ready), it makes a new stadium a very risky economic proposal for them.

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          • OriginalTom says:

            The leaked financials from Deadspin did not show the Rays making money before tickets were sold.

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    • Mr. Smith 1980 says:

      You have a lot of well thought out information in your post. You seem to know more about the stadium situation than me, but...

      I think you're wrong when you say Vinik doesn't want them in Tampa. What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

      In other major sports cities the varying sports feed off of each other not against each other.

      My native Pittsburgh, for example, uses all sorts of promotions and cross-promotion to move fans from one event to another; to make a day out of overlapping events and to come together as one big, figurative team in support of the local teams (even as far as making certain all the local teams share the same color scheme; which would work in TB in regard to the Bolts and Rays).

      I love that the mayor is actually on board... this finally allows the team to see if there is realistic hope of a move across the bay.

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      • Gus says:

        We don't know Vinik's public position, but talk to people who sell the ticket packages and they'll tell you the other pro teams are absolutely direct competition. The NFL is off in its own league with corporate support; the other franchises are fighting for the corporate scraps. Vinik hasn't locked up all that Channelside property for no reason. I know my company gave up hockey but kept its baseball and football tickets in the downturn.

        My larger point is that by being fooled by the trojan horse of -- "we just want to look around" -- the City is weakening its position to keep the team in Tampa Bay through 2028. As I've said here for many years, if the Rays don't play in the Trop throught the mid-2020's, then they aren't playing in Tampa Bay at all. That is an outcome that I don't think any of us want.

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  2. Roger Mallett says:

    If you were a rich business owner like Vinik why would he mind the Rays downtown? He owns a lot of channelside...so when hockey season ends june-Sept why would he not want a team there and 25,000 fans down there at shops or hotels that he own's or has ownership in the land..more money they make more money he can make off property rent....and also as you say very few franchises make money off season tickets anyways its mostly all about tv contracts and sponsorship...If I was him I would be like....bring them on in. The Rays would only be competing with them for 2 months of games...but like I said what would it matter?

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