Rob Manfred

Commissioner Rob Manfred is in the area this week. On Monday he attended a ground-breaking ceremony for the Astros’ and Nationals’ new spring training ballpark in West Palm Beach. While there, Manfred was asked the Rays’ quest for a new stadium.

Manfred’s answer is pretty much consistent with what he has said all along. However, it continues to be a refreshing change of pace from his predecessor, who trashed the region every chance he had.

“What’s new is that Mr. [Stuart] Sternberg remains committed to the idea that he’d like to get something done in [the Tampa Bay] region,” Manfred told the media (via the AP). “He’s continuing to work to create enough flexibility to get something done.”

Now, that sounds a lot nicer than “nobody can defend that,” when speaking about the Rays’ attendance, just one of many negative comments Selig made on the situation over the years.

On Tuesday, Manfred was at the GM meetings in Boca Raton and upped the ante even further (via Marc Topkin).

“I believe that Tampa-St. Pete is a viable major league market with the right facility … I’ve said this before, and it is not a dodge in this particular case, my views with respect to the situation in Tampa are largely derivative of Mr. Sternberg’s views. He is a very thoughtful and effective individual. He remains optimistic as a result of the factor you point to as well as others that something can be accomplished in Tampa-St. Pete.”

As I have written before, Tampa-St. Pete has already proven itself to be a viable major league market based on their television ratings. In this era, that means more than attendance. But as I have also said before, that doesn’t mean attendance isn’t important. It needs to be fixed one way or another.

Interest is there. They just need to figure out a way to make the idea of getting off the couch and going to the game more attractive and they need to find out how to make the games more attractive for corporations to invest in season tickets.

In the meantime, being positive and saying nice things is not going to get the Rays out of their contract and into a new stadium. But clearly the negative rhetoric didn’t help either, and well, it is just nice for the fans to have hope. Because when there is no hope, the Rays attendance goes even deeper in the black pit of despair.

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3 Comments

  1. John says:

    I'm sure that we'll hear even more than usual about this subject throughout this offseason, especially with the election of Wheeler-Brown. Been following the stadium saga for a long time and this is the most optimistic I've ever felt that the Rays and the City of St. Petersburg will reach an agreement.

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  2. Jim says:

    They have a way out, all they have to do is write a check. Problem is they are cheap and want to get out of there agreement for nothing.

    St Pete should simply tell them "get fucked, that's our final offer". If they chose to leave the area over a $16 million difference then that shows how "loyal" they are to the area. We paid that much to Pat Burrell.

    They signed a contract with no monetary defined out, and now they want to break the contract for pennies.

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  3. Brent says:

    Well, I think it would be naive to believe that Fred doesn't know the truth. Let's be realistic, Stu & Hillsborough, along with other private investors been working behind the scenes getting a plan in place for a ballpark in downtown Tampa, and Fred knows it. I find it hard to believe that everyone been sitting on their hands on the future of the Rays new stadium just because St.Pete has a peice of paper saying they have to, lol, ya right. We're talking about one of the smartest front offices in sports, and it's only matter of time until they can say what they been working on...

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