The Rays and their nagging attendance problem. Will a new stadium solve that?

jon abbey

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The Roadies. Since theyre trying to save money, they can probably buy some old NASL uniforms at a discount and use a bit of masking tape.
View attachment 24919
Heh, nice flashback. The only sports team I have ever had season tickets to was the Cosmos in the late seventies when I was a teenager and went with my dad.
 

joe dokes

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Heh, nice flashback. The only sports team I have ever had season tickets to was the Cosmos in the late seventies when I was a teenager and went with my dad.
Not at Randalls Island, I assume. I was a teenager in the NY area at the time. Hard to imagine packing Giants stadium.
You've probably seen this:


OK. OK. Back to the wretched state of the wrays.
 

LoweTek

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The Jaguars are already Florida's international city-sharing team!
I have a friend who is a charter Jags season ticket holder, so very inexpensive package compared to recent holders. He sells his London tickets online every year and it all but pays for his full season package.
 

HriniakPosterChild

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They should just play all road games.
Has it been 25 years already?!

Ten years after the Kingdome tiles fell

"We just heard a big crash and somebody said something about one of the tiles falling," Blowers recalled. "We sat out there for what seemed like a couple of minutes until someone had the bright idea that — you know what? — those things are pretty big and maybe we should get inside."

Thus was set in motion one of the more bizarre chapters in Mariners history, one that threatened the future of baseball in Seattle while maybe helping to save it.

The falling of four Kingdome tiles eventually forced the team to play its longest road trip ever — 20 games in 21 days spanning 10,425 miles.

"It was the longest road trip, the biggest laundry bill and the most suitcases," Edgar Martinez said with a smile this week. Martinez and catcher Dan Wilson are the only current Mariners who were part of that team.
 

barbed wire Bob

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Does the Rays' lease require 81 home games? This might be a way to not break the lease, and turn public opinion in St. Pete to pressure the city to let the team go.
The lease agreement is here.

The agreement specifically states the Rays must play all of their home games in the dome and are not permitted to play any of their home games elsewhere with the city’s consent.

Basically the Rays are screwed.
 

Hank Scorpio

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On one hand, money talks, and they can probably buy their way out of the agreement.

On the other, they could go full troll, and change their name weekly, to things such as "The St. Pete Crime Spree", "The St. Pete Drug Lords" and "The St. Pete Swamp Ass Juice" - and hold a bunch of events like "Trailer Trash Tuesdays", until the city begs them to leave.
 

Lose Remerswaal

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Heck, the SWB Yankees played all road games just 7 years ago

 

Zososoxfan

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Bingo. This didn’t work at the beginning of the century with the Expos stuck between Montreal and San Juan, and they’re only floating it because they know there’s an undercurrent of work to bring a team back to La Belle Provence.



That’s a bit misleading for both cities. Montreal had poor ownership post-Bronfman and could never overcome the Olympic Stadium disaster, plus they played in an era without Rogers and a weaker TSN. Tampa pulls great TV numbers but can’t get people to come to their garbage stadium and can’t convince Tampa to build them a stadium in a neighbourhood that’ll make it work.
This is a woeful misunderstanding of the situation. The City of St. Pete gave the Rays a large window (approx. 4 years) to negotiate a stadium plan with Hillsborough County (i.e. City of Tampa). Last year, there was a solid push by the County Commission and some business leaders and there was a framework in place to make it all work. The Rays were going to get a perfectly-located parcel of land near Downtown Tampa near the water. The Rays came up with a stadium proposal with a cost of approx. $1B and offered to pay about 1/5 or 1/4 of that. The County correctly laughed in Sternberg's face and told him to get lost.

The Rays have an awful stadium, but the real problem is its location. Downtown St. Pete is surrounded by water on 3 sides, there is no public transit in this area, and it is not near the epicenter of the populated areas. Sternberg is merely looking for his best investment (getting public dollars for a stadium he can privately own or at least bilk) and he's virtue signaling everyone and everything in sight to draw attention away from this.

Tampa is a good sports market in a rapidly growing and increasingly urban city. The Bolts are a tremendous product/experience and tickets are legitimately hard to come by. Every summer Bucs fans delude themselves into thinking a 9-7/10-6 playoff-bound season is on the horizon. The Bucs have fun and healthy (attendance-wise) rivalries with the Saints and Panthers. As others have said, the Rays get good TV support.

Honestly, I would think that SoSH would be more sympathetic to this situation considering it's a pretty good example of a local gov't and the people here standing up to a dipshit owner just looking for the best $$.
 
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MiracleOfO2704

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Yeah, I didn’t mean it like that. I’m certain every municipality did their part, and the comment was more about the Rays inability/unwillingness to pay their share. It was never an indictment of the market (in fact, I mentioned the TV ratings just before the part you bolded).
 

Soxfan in Fla

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Splitting the Rays between Tampa and Montréal would be the most Selig thing ever and he’s not even involved.
 

Soxfan in Fla

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This is a woeful misunderstanding of the situation. The City of St. Pete gave the Rays a large window (approx. 4 years) to negotiate a stadium plan with Hillsborough County (i.e. City of Tampa). Last year, there was a solid push by the County Commission and some business leaders and there was a framework in place to make it all work. The Rays were going to get a perfectly-located parcel of land near Downtown Tampa near the water. The Rays came up with a stadium proposal with a cost of approx. $1B and offered to pay about 1/5 or 1/4 of that. The County correctly laughed in Sternberg's face and told him to get lost.

The Rays have an awful stadium, but the real problem is its location. Downtown St. Pete is surrounded by water on 3 sides, there is no public transit in this area, and it is not near the epicenter of the populated areas. Sternberg is merely looking for his best investment (getting public dollars for a stadium he can privately own or at least bilk) and he's virtue signaling everyone and everything in sight to draw attention away from this.

Tampa is a good sports market in a rapidly growing and increasingly urban city. The Bolts are a tremendous product/experience and tickets are legitimately hard to come by. Every summer Bucs fans delude themselves into thinking a 9-7/10-6 playoff-bound season is on the horizon. The Bucs have fun and healthy (attendance-wise) rivalries with the Saints and Panthers. As others have said, the Rays get good TV support.

Honestly, I would think that SoSH would be more sympathetic to this situation considering it's a pretty good example of a local gov't and the people here standing up to a dipshit owner just looking for the best $$.
You nailed it. The thing is, before that 4 year window St. Pete’s then Mayor was basically refusing to let the Rays look at Tampa. That was very well publicized nationally. The 4 year window and everything you described accurately much less so. Thus everyone thinks St. Pete is holding the Rays hostage when it’s really Sternberg with his efforts to bilk Tampa for an overpriced stadium being the real issue.
 

Wily Mo Lester

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They should just play all road games. They can bat first half the time and last half the time. All the other teams would benefit by selling more tickets and concessions, and having less travel expenses.
They could be called the Globetrotters. Pay their players a little more to make up for all the travel. For more revenue, create an animated TV series where the players and their dog travel around in a bus solving mysteries.
They already beat you to the punch:
 

Awesome Fossum

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I really don't understand how MLB ended up in this situation. The Trop was opened in 1990 and the team wasn't awarded until 1995. Everyone had to know it was a lousy stadium and a lousy location at the time, no? From afar and in retrospect, it sure seems like MLB had all the leverage and St. Pete none; how does that result in such an unfavorable lease for the team?
 

DeadlySplitter

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I agree with those saying this is just the first step in eventually moving to Montreal... float this compromise out there, looks better when the move ultimately happens
 

joe dokes

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I really don't understand how MLB ended up in this situation. The Trop was opened in 1990 and the team wasn't awarded until 1995. Everyone had to know it was a lousy stadium and a lousy location at the time, no? From afar and in retrospect, it sure seems like MLB had all the leverage and St. Pete none; how does that result in such an unfavorable lease for the team?
I doubt they cared about that. They didn't care about having two 15-team leagues. Maybe they cared most about collecting the expansion fees and figuring pout the rest later.
 

Awesome Fossum

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Right, but they could have played St. Pete and the Trop against DC and RFK until they got a deal that was favorable from one market or the other. Or maybe this is when they finally learned that lesson.
 

The Allented Mr Ripley

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The cost of the lease itself may be favorable, which is why it was appealing to the Rays & MLB at the time. The issue now is the length of the lease and its binding/exclusivity status. Playing anywhere else will be very difficult from a legal standpoint, which is why failing to take advantage of the 4-year window that was granted to find a better option was such a blunder. As pointed out, the Rays were greedy and wanted to get away with carrying as little of the freight as possible when it came to financing a new stadium, and it bit them on the ass.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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I really don't understand how MLB ended up in this situation. The Trop was opened in 1990 and the team wasn't awarded until 1995. Everyone had to know it was a lousy stadium and a lousy location at the time, no? From afar and in retrospect, it sure seems like MLB had all the leverage and St. Pete none; how does that result in such an unfavorable lease for the team?
Wasn't the dome originally built to lure an existing team? I seem to recall the White Sox were threatening to move out of Chicago to get the new Comiskey built, and Tampa/St Pete was involved. Probably a couple other teams were able to leverage the existence of a stadium in a new market to get new parks for themselves (I mean, everyone seemed to get new parks in 90s/early 00s). I think MLB gave Tampa Bay the franchise at least in part as a reward for being a leveraging tool for existing teams.

There was also probably something to the park already being built. Previous expansion teams typically shared space with football teams instead of or before their own home parks were built (Marlins, Rockies, Mariners, Blue Jays, etc). Some others played in subpar temporary digs (Expos, Padres, Mets, Pilots/Brewers, etc) until a more modern stadium was built for them. Both 1998 franchises were moving into their own modern stadiums on day one. I assume that's why Tampa/St Pete beat out DC, at least.
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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Wasn't the dome originally built to lure an existing team? I seem to recall the White Sox were threatening to move out of Chicago to get the new Comiskey built, and Tampa/St Pete was involved. Probably a couple other teams were able to leverage the existence of a stadium in a new market to get new parks for themselves (I mean, everyone seemed to get new parks in 90s/early 00s). I think MLB gave Tampa Bay the franchise at least in part as a reward for being a leveraging tool for existing teams.
Both the White Sox and Giants were supposed to move there at one point. The Giants were also destined to go to Toronto and Denver too, FWIW.
 

genoasalami

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This is a woeful misunderstanding of the situation. The City of St. Pete gave the Rays a large window (approx. 4 years) to negotiate a stadium plan with Hillsborough County (i.e. City of Tampa). Last year, there was a solid push by the County Commission and some business leaders and there was a framework in place to make it all work. The Rays were going to get a perfectly-located parcel of land near Downtown Tampa near the water. The Rays came up with a stadium proposal with a cost of approx. $1B and offered to pay about 1/5 or 1/4 of that. The County correctly laughed in Sternberg's face and told him to get lost.

The Rays have an awful stadium, but the real problem is its location. Downtown St. Pete is surrounded by water on 3 sides, there is no public transit in this area, and it is not near the epicenter of the populated areas. Sternberg is merely looking for his best investment (getting public dollars for a stadium he can privately own or at least bilk) and he's virtue signaling everyone and everything in sight to draw attention away from this.

Tampa is a good sports market in a rapidly growing and increasingly urban city. The Bolts are a tremendous product/experience and tickets are legitimately hard to come by. Every summer Bucs fans delude themselves into thinking a 9-7/10-6 playoff-bound season is on the horizon. The Bucs have fun and healthy (attendance-wise) rivalries with the Saints and Panthers. As others have said, the Rays get good TV support.

Honestly, I would think that SoSH would be more sympathetic to this situation considering it's a pretty good example of a local gov't and the people here standing up to a dipshit owner just looking for the best $$.
This is a pretty solid take ....through all of the noise, Stu, like most owners, want's local/state government to foot the vast majority of the bill. Tampa/Hillsborough can get creative to raise some of the $$$, but there just isn't a legit funding source that is going to come up with the $600 million + that it will take from the public side to get a deal done. Pinellas/St. Pete probably has more funding flexibility, but why would you build a stadium in the same bad geographical location? My gut tells me they work a buyout of the lease and head elsewhere. Despite talking about a new stadium for as long as I can remember, there is little sense of urgency from ownership to get a deal done. To be honest, it's a story most locals are tired of and maybe that is what the Rays want??
 

Zososoxfan

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This is a pretty solid take ....through all of the noise, Stu, like most owners, want's local/state government to foot the vast majority of the bill. Tampa/Hillsborough can get creative to raise some of the $$$, but there just isn't a legit funding source that is going to come up with the $600 million + that it will take from the public side to get a deal done. Pinellas/St. Pete probably has more funding flexibility, but why would you build a stadium in the same bad geographical location? My gut tells me they work a buyout of the lease and head elsewhere. Despite talking about a new stadium for as long as I can remember, there is little sense of urgency from ownership to get a deal done. To be honest, it's a story most locals are tired of and maybe that is what the Rays want??
Well, the one thing that gives Tampanians hope of keeping the Rays is that the Tampa Sports Authority has been given the opportunity (not sure what legal rights exactly) to discuss relocation with the Rays. The TSA is an incredibly well-run organization, led by Rob Higgins, that has landed Tampa the Superbowl, NCAAF National Championship,
Frozen Four, and the NCAAWBB Final 4 (I think). These events have been produced really well, even with fairly significant weather challenges. This seems like a different beast, but if the stadium cost is brought down, the private sector commits to sponsorships, suites, and other guaranteed revenue (again), and the County/City come up with some money (again), this can get done. All of that assumes Stu sees better value in that rather than Montreal.

I wonder whether he considers that building a loyal fanbase takes time. There are finally adults that grew up with the Rays and have real emotional attachment to the team. While Stu probably doesn't give 2 shits about that, I'm sure a subsequent owner would (because it leads to ticket and merch sales and revenue more generally) and that would drive up the franchise value.

The talk about the history of the Trop would be incomplete without the delightful footnote that the TB Lightning played there from 1993-1996 (then the ThunderDome!).
 

genoasalami

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Well, the one thing that gives Tampanians hope of keeping the Rays is that the Tampa Sports Authority has been given the opportunity (not sure what legal rights exactly) to discuss relocation with the Rays. The TSA is an incredibly well-run organization, led by Rob Higgins, that has landed Tampa the Superbowl, NCAAF National Championship,
Frozen Four, and the NCAAWBB Final 4 (I think). These events have been produced really well, even with fairly significant weather challenges. This seems like a different beast, but if the stadium cost is brought down, the private sector commits to sponsorships, suites, and other guaranteed revenue (again), and the County/City come up with some money (again), this can get done. All of that assumes Stu sees better value in that rather than Montreal.

I wonder whether he considers that building a loyal fanbase takes time. There are finally adults that grew up with the Rays and have real emotional attachment to the team. While Stu probably doesn't give 2 shits about that, I'm sure a subsequent owner would (because it leads to ticket and merch sales and revenue more generally) and that would drive up the franchise value.


The talk about the history of the Trop would be incomplete without the delightful footnote that the TB Lightning played there from 1993-1996 (then the ThunderDome!).
TSA does a great job. It's one of the reasons the numerous national sporting events we've hosted here have gone off without a hitch. I guess there are ways to get creative, but the Rays had 3 years to get the framework of a deal done with Hillsborough County and by most accounts they did not come close to an agreement. Maybe this is all part of the posturing and the leverage needed to go back to Hillsborough and get a deal done, but it's not gonna be easy considering we are talking nearly a billion dollars and the negotiating window with Hillsborough is closed.
 

LoweTek

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Thunderdome, home of the $99 upper deck season tickets!

Year 1 in the Cow Palace at the Fairgrounds was interesting.
I was there (it was the Fairgrounds not the cow palace)! Had a half season ticket package for their inaugural season. It really wasn't so bad. Once they moved to the dome, forget it.
 

VORP Speed

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Good article with some more details on how the Rays are going to pitch this. I forgot that the Rays purchased the Rowdies and control the old Al Lang Stadium site. If Stu somehow pulls this off and gets to control 2 markets and double dip on regional TV deals (triple dip if you count French language deal à Montréal) and gets 2 heavily subsidized stadiums and can make the Tampa Bay stadium open air soccer/baseball to help get the Rowdies promoted to MLS....it will be the greatest achievement in the history of sports ownership.
 

shaggydog2000

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Good article with some more details on how the Rays are going to pitch this. I forgot that the Rays purchased the Rowdies and control the old Al Lang Stadium site. If Stu somehow pulls this off and gets to control 2 markets and double dip on regional TV deals (triple dip if you count French language deal à Montréal) and gets 2 heavily subsidized stadiums and can make the Tampa Bay stadium open air soccer/baseball to help get the Rowdies promoted to MLS....it will be the greatest achievement in the history of sports ownership.
So basically Stu thinks he's a sports version of Wyld Stallyns?