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The Montreal-Tampa Rays?

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The Tampa Bay Times has a long take on this, worth reading. 

 

https://www.tampabay.com/sports/rays/2019/06/22/the-rays-montreal-plan-a-peek-behind-the-curtain/

 

Good photos too, including this one:

 

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In this file photo, Jim Anderson, St. Petersburg Times pressroom superintendent, holds up a copy of an Aug. 8, 1992 edition of the St. Petersburg Times that commemorates a deal that would have moved the San Francisco Giants to the Tampa Bay area. [Associated Press]

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If you want to see what the Giants playing home games in a dome would have looked like...

 

matsui.jpg  maxresdefault.jpg  

 

Side note - if anyone ever gets the chance to go to a Yomiuri Giants game... DO IT.  They start earlier than what we're used to here, but it's the best time you'll have at a baseball game that you really don't have a vested interest in.

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11 hours ago, marlinfan said:

Anyone ever seen this? Opening Night at the Florida Suncoast Dome in 1990.

 

 

 

What the hell is the woman news person wearing around her neck?  Looks like a giant hook with a towel hanging from it.

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1 hour ago, Gothamite said:

The Tampa Bay Times has a long take on this, worth reading. 

 

https://www.tampabay.com/sports/rays/2019/06/22/the-rays-montreal-plan-a-peek-behind-the-curtain/

 

Good photos too, including this one:

 

spacer.png

In this file photo, Jim Anderson, St. Petersburg Times pressroom superintendent, holds up a copy of an Aug. 8, 1992 edition of the St. Petersburg Times that commemorates a deal that would have moved the San Francisco Giants to the Tampa Bay area. [Associated Press]

 

On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being pulling the trigger on the move, and 1 being having internal about the possibility of a move, the Giants moving to Tampa comes in at a 9.8

 

The NL owners voting the move down 9-4 is the only thing that stopped it. The framework of the deal to sell the team to Vince Naimoli was not only in place, the paperwork was being drawn up to be signed.

 

The owners’ vote was the last major hurdle the deal had to clear before being finalized. If the vote had gone the other way, the Giants would have been playing in Tampa Bay starting in 1993.

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Wouldn't that make it far less than 9.8 since the owner's vote was kind of a big deal? Without being confident of the results of the vote, it sounds like it should have been either a non-starter, or he should have had lawyers in place to challenge it (like Al Davis).

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1 hour ago, pmoehrin said:

 

On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being pulling the trigger on the move, and 1 being having internal about the possibility of a move, the Giants moving to Tampa comes in at a 9.8

 

The NL owners voting the move down 9-4 is the only thing that stopped it. The framework of the deal to sell the team to Vince Naimoli was not only in place, the paperwork was being drawn up to be signed.

 

The owners’ vote was the last major hurdle the deal had to clear before being finalized. If the vote had gone the other way, the Giants would have been playing in Tampa Bay starting in 1993.

 

I don't necessarily disagree with you, but Stadium for Rent and Home Team (a Giants book with an extensive periodical bibliography) paint a more complex picture. To quote from myself (with bolded emphases):

 

Quote

After the San José failure in June 1992, Giants owner Bob Lurie put the team up for sale, announcing that he would consider both local and outside offers. Also, Commissioner Fay Vincent cleared the team to explore “relocation options” (but not to relocate). When no local bids immediately came, Lurie sent out team vice president Corey Busch to investigate relocation cities. Busch, of course, encountered Rick Dodge and Jack Critchfield.1

 

Both Dodge and Critchfield were ready for Lurie. They had assembled an ownership group, led by Vince Naimoli, Vincent Piazza (father of Mike Piazza), and Vincent Tirendi. After impressing Busch in early July 1992, Lurie opened negotiations. On August 6, the Naimoli group flew to San Francisco to make a deal. They reached an agreement in principle to buy the team for $115 million (with a $10 million loan from Lurie). With a jubilant press conference in St. Petersburg the following day and several months of promoting the market, it seemed like Tampa Bay would finally have its team.2

 

Meanwhile, San Francisco mayor Frank Jordan was trying to stop relocation. He had contacted Walter Shorenstein in June to form a group of investors to buy the team. They had several lead investors, the most notable being Charlotte Hornets owner George Shinn, who arrived in August 1992. However, Shinn didn’t have enough capital to present a credible bid. After ejecting Shinn, the group recovered by upping various stakes and including a $10 million loan from Lurie, the same one he gave to the St. Petersburg bid.3

 

The timing worked well in San Francisco’s favor. The baseball owners ousted Commissioner Vincent in August, delaying discussions and leaving National League President Bill White (a former Giant) as the majors’ leader. On September 9, White gave the San Francisco investors an October 12 deadline to put together their bid. Naimoli protested that Lurie couldn’t consider a new deal until the St. Petersburg bid was off the table. White’s response was that it was the majors, not Lurie, considering the bid. Lurie’s loan did complicate things, but White’s reasoning was sound.4

 

With Safeway chairman Peter Magowan now leading the San Francisco group, the local investors presented a $95 million (later $100 million) offer on October 11. Now, the NL owners felt confident enough in the local investors to strike down the St. Petersburg group’s bid by a 9-4 vote. Despite the $15 million difference, the clubs decided that keeping the Giants in San Francisco was the right move.5

 

So, why did White give the San Francisco investors leeway and why did the owners decline a larger offer? Here are several reasons:

  • MLB’s TV contract with CBS was in a tenuous position. Falling ratings saw CBS wanting to renegotiate their contract for a lower price. Moving a team from San Francisco (the 5th-largest market) to Tampa Bay (the 13th-largest market), would have turned the $1.06 billion CBS contract into a $500 million deal. Each team stood to lose $5 - $10 million. High-ranking CBS employee Larry Baer’s presence in the San Francisco group lends credence to this hypothesis.6
  • Dodgers owner Peter O’Malley publicly opposed Tampa Bay’s bid. One can assume that it was both out of a sense of history (i.e., preserve the rivalry) and for financial reasons (e.g., travel costs and EST games – which is also why the Rockies and Padres’ ownership opposed the move). Like with Stoneham trying to move to Minneapolis, an O’Malley intervened to keep the Giants from being idiots.7
  • Stadium for Rent argues that Wayne Huizenga and his Florida Marlins wanted to have some exclusivity in the state. Huizenga opposed the Mariners move, while also arguing for a “transfer fee” to compensate his club.8 Even though he ultimately voted in favor of the Naimoli bid (along with the Cubs, Cardinals, and Phillies), Huizenga’s opposition was notable.9 
  • The book's introduction also suggests that the racism Bill White faced in St. Petersburg while playing motivated him to stop the move. That’s a bit dubious.10

This move would have been disastrous for baseball, from both a financial and historical perspective. A smaller TV deal have been a problem for small-market teams. The move also would have killed one of the greatest rivalries in baseball and condemned a legacy franchise to play in deeper obscurity. Maybe my biases are leading me to exaggerate the consequences of the move, I’m not sure. But the point stands – the Tampa Bay Giants should never have happened.

 

1 Bob Andelman and Lori Parsells, Stadium For Rent: Tampa Bay’s Quest for Major League Baseball, 2nd edition (St. Petersburg, FL: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2015), 330; Robert F. Garratt, Home Team: The Turbulent History of the San Francisco Giants (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2017), 155–56.

2 Andelman and Parsells, Stadium For Rent, 331–41, 366–68; Garratt, Home Team, 158–59.

3 Garratt, Home Team, 156–67.

4 Andelman and Parsells, Stadium For Rent, 370–71, 374–75; Garratt, Home Team, 165–66.

5 Garratt, Home Team, 167–69.

6 Andelman and Parsells, Stadium For Rent, 387–89.

7 Andelman and Parsells, 375–76, 385; Garratt, Home Team, 169.

8 Andelman and Parsells, Stadium For Rent, 389–91.

9 Garratt, Home Team, 169.

10 Andelman and Parsells, Stadium For Rent, xv.

 

TL;DR: Had MLB's teams not feared being penalized by CBS in their contract negotiations, as well as pressure from influential owners and the strength of the local ownership group (in spite of a smaller bid and a loan from Lurie), then the move might have gone through. Naimoli thought it was close enough to commission prototypes.

 

Here's a transcript of a segment that 60 Minutes aired on the aftermath of the whole affair. It's an interesting look at how that initial optimism that @Ferdinand Cesarano mentioned in the Florida White Sox discussion transitioned into a bitterness for the approaching legal battle.

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I think in short what happened was the NL underestimated just how serious Bob Lurie was about selling the team to an owner that would move them out of San Francisco.

 

For every franchise relocation that happens, there’s at least dozen others that get talked about, but never come to fruition. Most get shot down before you even start talking about a stadium.

 

I think the NL just assumed the situation would solve itself, and that the talks between Lurie and Naimoli were more exploratory in nature than talking actual dollars and cents.

 

When it became obvious that the situation wasn’t going to solve itself, and the team was set to move, then you see all this activity around keeping the Giants in San Francisco starting up.

 

Why the deal got so far before being torpedoed I think can be chalked up a lot to poor communications on all sides. This is happening at the same time that the groundwork is being laid for the ‘94 strike, and you can see a lot of the same parallels of people not talking to one another being at the root of a lot of issues.

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Owners are loath to involve themselves in another owner’s business, so I can see staying out of the way as long as possible. But moving out of San Francisco would have impacted their business, and I don’t see any reason why they should have voted to do so.

 

So in the end, it really doesn’t matter how close he came to a deal with anyone Tampa Bay.  The vote was likely a non-starter all along.

 

FWIW, I don’t think the AL would have let the White Sox move out of Chicago either.  Was only a couple decades earlier that they scuttled the Sox-to-Milwaukee deal because they saw what happened when the other league abandoned a major American city.  They were not going to make that mistake themselves. 

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6 minutes ago, pmoehrin said:

I think in short what happened was the NL underestimated just how serious Bob Lurie was about selling the team to an owner that would move them out of San Francisco.

 

For every franchise relocation that happens, there’s at least dozen others that get talked about, but never come to fruition. Most get shot down before you start talking about a stadium.

 

I think the NL just assumed the situation would solve itself, and that the talks between Lurie and Naimoli were more exploratory in nature than talking actual dollars and cents.

 

When it become obvious that the situation wasn’t going to solve itself, and the team was set to move, then you see all this activity around keeping the Giants in San Francisco starting up.

 

Why the deal got so far before being torpedoed I think can be chalked up a lot to poor communications on all sides. This is happening at the same time that the groundwork is being laid for the ‘94 strike, and you can see a lot of the same parallels of people not talking to one another being at the root of a lot of issues.

 

That's a fairly accurate assessment. Following the disastrous San José referendum, Lurie was desperate to unload the team onto anybody and the Tampa Bay group of Dodge/Naimoli/Critchfield were desperate enough to entertain this offer. The sale of the Mariners to the Seattle consortium (including Nintendo of America) and the Porter/Schur group flat-lining at the 1993 expansion finish line gave Dodge & company enough motivation to pursue it all-in. 

 

Poor communication is definitely a big theme in this relocation attempt. MLB/the NL assumed that it would just be talks, not signing an agreement in principle. Naimoli's group assumed that said agreement was a done deal, while MLB/the NL (specifically NL President/de facto commissioner Bill White after Fay Vincent got bleepcanned for being anti-collusion) knew that the TV contract negotiations would be sunk if the move went through. The lack of communication also allowed for the "SF can't negotiate with Bob Lurie, but SF can negotiate with the league" loophole. Cleaner rules about the negotiations and voting process would have made this attempt far less stressful for all sides.

 

I'd also argue that the "agreement in principle" news is what the San Francisco business community/investors needed to hear to get their act together. Before this, they were content to have Lurie own the team and try to get a totally public-financed stadium done in the Bay Area, which was and is a near-impossibility. After the news, the city officials and business people went into high gear to form an ownership group and buy the team from Lurie and present an offer to the NL/MLB (as they couldn't go to Lurie directly, per the nature of the agreement in principle with the St. Petersburg group). Despite some setbacks (e.g., pushing and removing Hornets owner George Shinn as the group leader/primary investor, reorganizing to have Peter Magowan as the figurehead, and getting a $10 million loan from Lurie), the group managed to present a credible offer. Although the Tampa Bay bid was larger, the strength of the San Francisco group and the knowledge of the TV contract negotiations convinced enough owners to reject Naimoli and company. 

 

In the long run, the NL owners (aside from the Cubs, Cardinals, Marlins, and Phillies) made the right call. The new owners landing the best free agent that year, Barry Lamar M-fin' Bonds, helped to galvanize the Giants in San Francisco and pave the way for one of the best stadiums in the majors and the 3-in-5. It took an "agreement in principle" to get things moving in a positive direction, with a mostly private-financed stadium (there were some backdoor subsidies, but nothing like what Lurie wanted) and a return to national prominence. 

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Is there a reason Tampa Bay won't let the team out of it's lease?

What exactly are they getting out of keeping a team that barely makes any money?

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Posted (edited)
19 minutes ago, AustinFomBoston said:

Is there a reason Tampa Bay won't let the team out of it's lease?

 

Yes. Because "Tampa Bay" is a body of water, an estuary connected to the Gulf of Mexico, not a municipal government.

The city of St. Petersburg has given the Rays full opportunities to find an agreement for a new stadium within the area since 2016. The lease buyout to remain in the area, started at $42M then and lowers annually until 2027.

Edited by dfwabel

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St. Petersburg has a vested interest in keeping the Rays within its borders.  From the city’s perspective, letting them move to Tampa is almost as bad as seeing them go to Montreal.  

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2 hours ago, AustinFomBoston said:

Is there a reason Tampa Bay won't let the team out of it's lease?

What exactly are they getting out of keeping a team that barely makes any money?

 

because then they would lose out on 10s of millions of dollars?  Sometimes the obvious answer is the correct one.

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Yeah - the city doesn’t care whether the team makes money (which, make no mistake, they definitely do).  Just so long as they keep making the rent payments. 

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2 hours ago, AustinFomBoston said:

Is there a reason Tampa Bay won't let the team out of it's lease?

What exactly are they getting out of keeping a team that barely makes any money?

Where are you getting that they "barely make any money"? Even with the second worst attendance in the league, they are still getting tons of money from TV contracts and sponsorships.

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10 minutes ago, Magic Dynasty said:

Where are you getting that they "barely make any money"? Even with the second worst attendance in the league, they are still getting tons of money from TV contracts and sponsorships.

Completely forgot about TV deal, Merch, etc. I just assumed with such bad attendance they weren't making that much to begin with. 

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20 minutes ago, Magic Dynasty said:

Where are you getting that they "barely make any money"? Even with the second worst attendance in the league, they are still getting tons of money from TV contracts and sponsorships.

 

Yes. This isn’t the St. Louis Browns or the Boston Braves, where you had serious concerns about making payroll.

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8 minutes ago, AustinFomBoston said:

Completely forgot about TV deal, Merch, etc. I just assumed with such bad attendance they weren't making that much to begin with. 

 

 

Their "new" local TV deal, which is in reality a 15-year extension of the current contract starts this year went from $35M/year to $50M for 2019 and will reportedly average $82M over the contract.

 

And they also get a piece of the national deals, plus a MLB revenue sharing distribution check.

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We know that NFL teams have their entire payroll completely covered by shared revenues.  Obviously, MLB revenues vary more than the NFL, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if MLB clubs were in a similar position.  All but maybe the very highest spending team or two. 

 

That’s before the first ticket is sold.  No major-league sports team loses money.  Ever.  Not even the bad ones or the poorly-supported ones.

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3 minutes ago, Gothamite said:

We know that NFL teams have their entire player payroll completely covered by shared revenues.  I wouldn’t be at all surprised if MLB clubs were in a similar position.

 

That’s before the first ticket is sold.  No major-league sports team loses money.  Ever.  Not even the bad ones or the poorly-supported ones.

In 2017, the Rays (reportedly) had $205M in revenues and a player payroll of $70M, or about 35% of revenues. That was tied at 4th lowest percentage of revenues.

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