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Tampa Bay Rays: Escape from the Trop


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Anyway my first thought upon hearing this Montreal/Tampa news (well second thought, my first thought was laughter) was “negotiating tactic.” 

 

They say they want a new stadium in each locale but...no. That’s not happening. I think the end goal is clearly to pit the cities in the Tampa Bay area (Tampa, St. Pete, Clearwater) against Montreal.

Both Montreal and the Bay Area municipalities have been stingy with public funds when it comes to sports stadium proposals. So the Rays may figure splitting the difference between Tampa Bay and Montreal will create a “who wants us more?” scenario and get one locale to crack. 

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1 hour ago, B-Rich said:

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Completely unrelated, but I find it hilarious how the "existing urban areas" on the east coast just stops when you reach the bottom of Brevard County.

1 minute ago, Ice_Cap said:

Anyway my first thought upon hearing this Montreal/Tampa news (well second thought, my first thought was laughter) was “negotiating tactic.” 

 

They say they want a new stadium in each locale but...no. That’s not happening. I think the end goal is clearly to pit the cities in the Tampa Bay area (Tampa, St. Pete, Clearwater) against Montreal.

Both Montreal and the Bay Area municipalities have been stingy with public funds when it comes to sports stadium proposals. So the Rays may figure splitting the difference between Tampa Bay and Montreal will create a “who wants us more?” scenario and get one locale to crack. 

More related, this is exactly what they're trying to do. The first city to crack, whether that's Tampa (and company) or Montreal, gets the team. If neither gives them money, they try other cities. All that the Rays owners want is a stadium that they doesn't have to pay much for, no matter where it is.

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1 hour ago, goalieboy82 said:

from what i have read, Vince Naimoli was very cheap.  could MLB (and the current owner say) that they shouldn't be bond by what the last guy did.

 

He was, and his cheapness is what led to this deal. He basically agreed to put up 100% the team’s revenue over the next 30 years as collateral for a free stadium.

 

But if you don’t intend to own the team for 30 years, what difference does it make? The downside of the deal was always intended to be the next guy’s problem.

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3 hours ago, B-Rich said:


THIS.  

 

As a baseball fan, I've experienced first hand how long of a drive it is across downtown Tampa, across the Howard Frankland Bridge and down the Pinellas peninsula to this stadium, and how far away the stadium is from the existing and potential fan base (which I would, in fact, extend up to Orlando).  As a planner, I always wanted to find a accurate graphic to show how badly this stadium is located in terms of being accessible to its fan base. 

After some Google search, I think I've about found it.   It's not perfect-- I was looking for one of those maps with scattered dots representing population density, but what I found should do. Here is a map, developed using University of Florida data, showing the 2005 urbanized/populated areas of Florida, focusing on Tampa Bay with the outskirts of Orlando in the upper-middle-right.  Tropicana Field is shown as the yellow dot in St. Petersburg:spacer.png 

 

You'll see that there is while the Pinellas peninsula is almost 100% developed, there is still more developed area, with houses, neighborhoods; people on the immediate northeast (Tampa) side of the bay.  Being almost at the tip of the Pinellas peninsula, the stadium location stands out as being surrounded on almost 3 sides by water.  And there is a lot of development along the I-4 corridor to Orlando, which will become even more developed in the future, as these growth prediction map from the same source show: 

 

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All of that red, orange and yellow growth is and will continue to be occurring north, south and east of Tampa.  Pinellas is built out, hemmed in by water, and can't grow anymore. 

 

An "urban" stadium located in downtown Tampa would become immediately more accessible to fans and a hit with purists, but it may be more advantageous attendance-wise to pull an Atlanta Braves or Texas Rangers and place a new stadium somewhere in the eastern 'burbs, maybe near the I-4/I-75 interchange.  I'm certain that a location there starts to get you a lot more Lakeland, Winter Haven, even Orlando fan flow-- heck, three of the four times I've seen the Rays I drove down from Disney, and the drive from the House of Mouse to the edge of Tampa is only 1/2 the total length-- you still have to cross all of Tampa, the Bay, and down a ways to downtown St. Pete to get to the baseball stadium.

And as McCarthy noted, the stadium is also a bad joke. It has the misfortune of being the last permanently domed baseball stadium built before retractable roofs became a thing, and also the last one completed before the renaissance in baseball stadiums began with Camden Yards.  I've been to a lot of baseball stadiums in my life, and the only worse one I can recall was the Kingdome-- a great big antiseptic mausoleum.  And just as the Kingdome was replaced after 23 years of baseball (1976-99), Tropicana Field needs to be replaced the same way after a similar time span (1998 to 2019 =21 years at present; give a few more years for a new stadium to be constructed). 

That's kinda of the problem.  There are only three municipalities in Hillsborough County: Tampa, Plant City, and Temple Terrace.  The rest like Brandon, Odessa, Lutz, Seffner, and Valrico are just names and unincorporated parts of the county with some having a Post Office.  Pasco and Polk Counties have more incorporated towns and cities, but then you're getting to places which the infrastructure is minimal.  Take a trip to Legoland Florida to experiences that on State Roads. 

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The I-4/I-75 interchange is about 10 miles east of downtown Tampa. Which isn't nearly as bad as the current situation is, where the Trop is more like 25 miles away from the downtown Tampa area, but it's probably not ideal. As far as Orlando goes, that's about another 70 miles off from that same interchange, a negligible difference when talking about the impact of Orlando attendees (which, lets be honest, you're not gonna get a whole lot of anyway due to the distance, not to mention traffic on I-4 during those hours is absolutely awful).

 

My brother lives in Orlando, and we've both made drives to and from Orlando and southern St. Pete all the time. He's a bit eccentric about this IMO, but he refuses to drive through downtown Tampa and that stretch of 275/4 during the daytime hours unless he has no choice. He'll take the longer route southward, over the skyway, and connect at the 275/75 junction down there and take that up to 4 than the alternative. 

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The drive would be tolerable if it was rewarded with a great stadium experience - but the one trip I've made to the Trop was a flashback to Continental Airlines Arena circa 2003 when they pretty much left it in disrepair to justify building the Rock. 

 

I'm in Fort Myers, I have the choice of a 2.5 hour drive to the Trop, or 2.5 hour drive to Marlins Park. The trip over to Miami is a bit easier - pretty much a straight shot down on 75 and there are no bridges to contend with. However, the main deciding factor for me is that Marlins Park is honestly the nicest stadium I have ever been to. 

 

If the Marlins could just but a consistently competent team together and win back the fans, they already have the great stadium experience in place. 

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[checks date of story]

 

This story didn't come out on April 1st? They're actually serious?! This has to be, without a doubt, the absolute dumbest idea I've ever heard. And they expect both cities to give them new stadiums they'll use for half the season?! Someone needs to give the Rays owner a mental health test for the sake of MLB.

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Why don't they just move straight to Montreal instead of this... hare brained scheme?

 

Think about it. Montreal would have, at most, 9 years to build a new stadium (Being that the Rays are locked into the lease for Tropicana Field until 2027). Once the stadium is built, then the Rays can move to Montreal and there's no need for realignment.

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1 hour ago, Red Comet said:

[checks date of story]

 

This story didn't come out on April 1st? They're actually serious?! This has to be, without a doubt, the absolute dumbest idea I've ever heard. And they expect both cities to give them new stadiums they'll use for half the season?! Someone needs to give the Rays owner a mental health test for the sake of MLB.

Manfred spoke openly about it in the last 48 hours. He deserves an Oscar, Emmy and Tony nomination for his performance, along being charged with Extortion too.

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9 minutes ago, dfwabel said:

Manfred spoke openly about it in the last 48 hours. He deserves an Oscar, Emmy and Tony nomination for his performance, along being charged with Extortion too.

 

When you have to get creative with your extortion attempts, it seems that it's time to fess up to either the failure of the market or the organization's true intentions to either leave or demand a taxpayer-funded white elephant. 

 

That's another thing about any talk of a new stadium in the Tampa Bay Area. It isn't a sure-fire guarantee that the team will see any long-term attendance boost, especially if fans are peeved about being scammed for a ridiculous amount of taxpayer money. 

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22 hours ago, Ice_Cap said:

Anyway my first thought upon hearing this Montreal/Tampa news (well second thought, my first thought was laughter) was “negotiating tactic.” 

Mine was "is this the OITGDNHL thread because this sounds like something they'd do."

 

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They're moving to Montreal, but they can't move with that lease right now so they have to float this idea in the interim. Plus, they want to make sure Montreal can get them a new ballpark and this gives MTL time to build it for them, and then they'll be gone for good in 2029 or earlier if they can negotiate out of that iron clad lease they've got down there. St. Pete is hilarious, they're sticking to it really hard without realizing or caring much about the fact that the team will surely be gone by the time that lease ends. Not that I blame them for not budging on building a new ballpark. 

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The fact that they're talking about this as a permanent solution is what's so baffling.  As has been pointed out a million times, solving the problem of not being able to build a stadium by trying to build two stadiums is ludacris.  It's one thing to use this as a trial to see if MTL wants a team, with the intention of trying to have a ballpark built (or close) by 2028, but... yeah.

 

Is Olympic Stadium playable right now if they had to?  I was there a couple of years ago but only walking around.

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This roving team idea has not been out of the question in the history of Tampa Bay baseball. One of my favorite parts in Stadium for Rent (again, READ THIS BOOK if you're a baseball fan and want an explanation as to why the Rays exist and are currently in this mess) was Andelmann going over the various expansion groups. Here's one of them, from future Tampa Bay Buccaneers executive Joel Glazer.

 

Quote

AMERICA’S TEAM: Florida businessman Joel Glazer, 23, applied for a franchise that would play 20 home games in each of four cities—choosing from Tampa Bay, South Florida, Denver, Buffalo and Washington, D.C. “This is an idea for the 1990s,” Glazer told the Denver Post. “It’s the future of baseball” (Andelmann 188).

 

This was laughed out of the room, most likely. I guess Stu got the idea from him, but Stu didn't realize that this plan required no new construction. 

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So the target year for this is 2023? Coincidentally, a couple weeks back, Russell Wilson seemed confident that Portland could have a team as early as 2023. He probably already received word of this plan with the Rays. The time frame and whether they get an expansion team or existing team depended on the stadium situations in Tampa Bay and Oakland.

 

 

 

 

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5 hours ago, SFGiants58 said:

One of my favorite parts in Stadium for Rent (again, READ THIS BOOK if you're a baseball fan and want an explanation as to why the Rays exist and are currently in this mess)...

 

I have taken your suggestion, and am reading the book.

 

I have finished the first chapter, about the White Sox' possible move to St. Petersburg for 1989. I am impressed that, even though the St. Petersburg negotiators were disappointed that the Illinois legislature came through at the last possible moment with a deal that kept the White Sox in Chicago, they were nevertheless very upbeat about the experience.  City manager Rick Dodge and city council member Bob Stewart were positively effusive about how the whole process helped the region by putting Tampa Bay at the forefront of Major League Baseball's perception, an assessment that was endorsed by Peter Bavasi.

 

Also notable was the lack of any ill will towards Sox owners Jerry Reinsdorf and Eddie Einhorn, who had been upfront with St. Pete in their negotiations. The White Sox' owners had said all along that they would move the club there if they couldn't get a publicly-financed park in Chicago. So, when they got legislative approval for that new park late at night on the legislature's final day in session (and as a result of considerable arm-twisting by the governor), the St. Pete negotiators did not feel betrayed. They came away excited for the future.

 

Likewise, I am excited about my immediate future, which involves reading the rest of this book. Thank you for the suggestion.

 

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Let's say the Oakland ballpark doesn't happen and we get the Portland A's & Montreal Expos (Rays). Expansion to 32 (if it happens) could come down to these candidates: 

 

Nashville

Charlotte

Raleigh

Las Vegas

 

 

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