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The Rays have “said almost nothing” about their stadium situation? Really?

Feb 6, 2012, 3:08 PM EST

Texas Rangers v Tampa Bay Rays - Game 3

Here’s MLB.com’s Richard Justice in an article about the Tampa Bay Rays, just published a few minutes ago:

It’s impossible not to admire how the Tampa Bay Rays are handling their stadium situation. They’ve said almost nothing publicly, taking the high road and letting the politicians do the talking.

Yes, the Rays have said almost nothing about their stadium situation and how it puts them at a financial disadvantage. The have said almost nothing. Except, you know, for when they have.

Here was Rays’ owner Stuart Sternberg in mid-October:

“… eventually Major League Baseball is going to vaporize this team. It could go on nine, 10, 12 more years, but between now and then it’s going to vaporize this team. Maybe a check gets written locally, maybe someone writes me a check (to buy the team). If I had $80 million to put out there, we’d be moving along in life.”

Here was Sternberg a week before that:

“I am frustrated this year. We’ve replicated last year [on the field] and our attendance numbers were down 15 percent and our ratings were down. The rubber has got to meet the road at some point here … Whatever you want to say, there are 29 other teams passing us like we’re going in reverse right now. Except on the field. And at some point that changes.”

Here was Sternberg last June, talking about how the fans won’t come to his park:

“Water is a big divide …  You know, we’ve learned really lots about what — I would say — (are) the driving habits of people. And their … ability to sort of navigate bridges.”

Then there was that time in June 2010 Sternberg said that the ballpark was “not viable,” and said that the team should be courted by the bay area as if they were a team from out of town looking to move in:

“If we weren’t here, how would people treat us?” Sternberg said wistfully. “I think that’s how I’d like to see this community react. If we weren’t here, I think it would take a regional effort to get us here.”

Then there was that time that Evan Longoria complained about how no one wants to go to their ballpark.

Hey, I’d complain too! It kind of stinks being the Rays, having a great team and having to play in a crap ballpark that no one wants to go to.

But let’s not pretend that they’ve said “almost nothing” about it, always taking the high road and never getting involved in the politics of it all.  They’ve been agitating about it for years.

  1. Chris Fiorentino - Feb 6, 2012 at 3:16 PM

    But have they said anything specific about how crappy the stadium is…or were all those quotes about how the fans suck? I disagree with the entire concept here, Craig, because I think those quotes are specifically about the crappy fans and not the crappy stadium. If you want to connect the dots and assume they are talking about the stadium, then that’s fine. But those quotes above don’t even mention the stadium, and I think you are off base here just a little bit. Just my humble opinion.

    • florida76 - Feb 6, 2012 at 4:45 PM

      Rays ownership has been complaining about the lack of fan support along with the horrible facility since 2009. Tampa Bay isn’t a great team, but deserve full credit for two playoff appearances out of the last three seasons. This 2010-2011 success seemed unlikely after 2009, when the club tumbled to roughly 11 games out of the wildcard following the miracle pennant-winning year of 2008.

      In reality, Tampa Bay has more problems than just a hideous stadium. It now appears the lack of tradition in the Tampa Bay market wasn’t considered when awarding a franchise. While that area had spring training teams, none of them represented Tampa Bay. Late last season, when the Rays were hosting the Yankees, the home attendance was so low, it was surpassed by clubs long out of contention.

      Rays are definitely a serious threat to relocate by the end of this decade, they do have leverage in this matter. Anyone who says the Rays are bound to St. Pete until 2027 simply is uninformed.

      • bobdira - Feb 6, 2012 at 5:13 PM

        You’re right florida, there were studies that said that pro baseball did not have the staying power in the area for a number of reasons. The Rays may not be a “great team” in your opinion, but they have proven to be a very entertaining one for 4 straight years now, playoffs in three of those. The missing ingredient in the attendance is what most teams have that the Rays don’t. Season ticket holders from businesses in the area. If that plum could be picked, the situation could change.

        That in my opinion is why Sternberg wants to move the team to downtown Tampa, because of the huge increase in the number of large businesses that would buy the season ticket and loge seats that are the source of the greatest amount of income to a team as far as attendance goes. I beleive he chose downtown Tampa, because he has already laid the foundation with the businesses there for their commitment to buy those seats.

    • bobdira - Feb 6, 2012 at 5:08 PM

      Chris, the comment isn’t about “the crappy fans”. There are rabid fans for the Rays and a lot more of them would attend games if not for a few fundamental reasons. One of the reasons without question is the location of the stadium. From strictly a demographic standpoint, it is surrounded more by water than by people. The access to the stadium is not easy in or out. The surrounding area has 1 bar within walking distance, no restaurants to speak of and zero entertainment. it’s not as if you can take a ride to have dinner, go to the game and end the evening at a nice nightclub. Just not available.

      The quotes Craig put in the article are out of context. I live in Tampa, drive 47 miles one way to the park, amd a season ticket holder and see about 75 to 80 games a year. I hear all the comments on line, on tv, on the radio, on espn, etc. etc. etc. The trop is a s#%t hole. No other way to put it, but it’s our s#%t hole so we have to love it.

      • orphicdragon - Feb 7, 2012 at 5:08 PM

        ^ This. 1000 times this.

  2. CJ - Feb 6, 2012 at 3:19 PM

    maybe the writer meant to end that quote with, “lately”?

    Anyway, rumor has it that the Rays have turned down the talk lately in an effort to help the politicians understand that the stadium itself is almost as quiet right now as it is in May through September.

  3. latrops - Feb 6, 2012 at 3:35 PM

    I’d think that the politicians are finding it very difficult to justify spending/financing hundreds of millions of dollars to build a stadium when there is evidence that the fans just don’t care enough. Sure, the Rays would draw better in a better stadium in a better location, but this does look like a situation where the demand for major league baseball may not warrant the cost of building a new stadium.

  4. dowhatifeellike - Feb 6, 2012 at 4:16 PM

    It could be worse – they could have a beautiful ballpark with a crud team that nobody wants to see.

    • nolanwiffle - Feb 7, 2012 at 8:26 AM

      So you’ve been to Baltimore.

  5. schmokes - Feb 6, 2012 at 4:17 PM

    Way to pull out quotes from 2 years ago! Franchises like the Minnesota Vikings have complained publicly about their stadium situation almost daily for the last 5 years, but those 3 or 4 comments over the last few years for the rays were definitely worth bringing up.

  6. cur68 - Feb 6, 2012 at 4:18 PM

    In a similar vein, I’ve totally taken the high road agitating for a Vancouver based MLB franchise here in Canuckistan. If the Ray’s want to move somewhere and play in front of actual people that want to see the excellent product they put on the field in a stadium where people will actually go to, then they could do a lot worse than the Vancouver Beavers (in potentia).

    • Old Gator - Feb 6, 2012 at 4:19 PM

      That’s true. They could build the stadium on pilings out in the straits and be right on the fault line. And doesn’t “Juan de Fuca” invite all sorts of puns?

      • cur68 - Feb 6, 2012 at 4:39 PM

        Hadn’t thought of that OG. I was thinking they could play @ BC place but it appears to be the wrong shape for a baseball diamond. Perhaps tow some barges into English Bay, weld them together and let it float out there as the stadium? Certainly be an unparalleled view of Kits Beach and the Ladies Beach Volleyball Team. Yowza.

  7. Old Gator - Feb 6, 2012 at 4:18 PM

    I’m amazed that Tropicana even wanted to let its name be associated with that hyperpineal waterside wart.

  8. jakelohr - Feb 6, 2012 at 4:19 PM

    Chris nailed it. Seems like Craig was just looking for something negative to say. The St. Pete mayor is the loud mouth here.

  9. nagrommit - Feb 6, 2012 at 4:27 PM

    People always love to find new homes for the Rays, but I’m convinced Sternberg’s long game is to relocate to New York. He’s from there. It’s one of the few places that could support a MLB team.

    Coming soon: the Jamaica Bay Rays

  10. illbringdabeers - Feb 6, 2012 at 4:44 PM

    Just move this team to Charlotte already

  11. nflinla - Feb 6, 2012 at 5:11 PM

    Florida … Worst sports fans!! Period..

    • Old Gator - Feb 6, 2012 at 6:15 PM

      Not true. You’ve clearly never been to a Little Havana tenement garden cockfight. The excitement is palpable.

    • flpunx - Feb 6, 2012 at 8:25 PM

      I would beg to differ that the city with the worst fans is Philadelphia. Or Boston. And before the argument comes out, just because you’re abscenely passionate abotu a team doesn’t make you a good fan. Just obnoxious and usually drunk.

  12. loge23 - Feb 6, 2012 at 5:43 PM

    Well, the place is a dump – that’s not debatable. But there’s no future for a team in Tampa, wherever they play. Move already. The only time the place gets any action is whne the Yanks or Red Sox come in.

  13. dowhatifeellike - Feb 6, 2012 at 5:56 PM

    I think they should take a play from the New Jersey Giants/Jets and see if the Marlins will let them share their shiny new stadium.

  14. APBA Guy - Feb 6, 2012 at 6:21 PM

    Stu erred when he said there were “29 other teams” passing the Rays. Clearly he’d forgotten about the A’s. We’ll always be there to prop them up.

    • Dave Barker - Feb 7, 2012 at 1:30 AM

      True, we had 647 more people per game last year than you did. Thanks for being there for us… or actually not being there, I should say.

      http://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/current_attendance.shtml#attendance

  15. farvite - Feb 7, 2012 at 2:28 AM

    Move them to NY.

  16. orphicdragon - Feb 7, 2012 at 5:09 PM

    We drive over from Gainesville, and I often pick up my oldest nephew who’s a lakeland boy. We see as many games as possible, but getting to the stadium is a royal pain in the *****. I always bring my best buddy with me, and she had her 4th stroke at age 19 5 years ago.

    By the time we are done with the *&^%$ traffic and trying to get her to our extremely expensive but crap **** seats that I all but have to piggy back her to because the Trop is the very farking DEFINITION of inaccessible it’s the bottom of the second freakin inning.

    You want perspective? The BULK of my time on the road is spent sitting in traffic on the bridge of NO DAMN MOVEMENT!!! I give myself an hour to an hour and a half before game time to hit that bridge so that we can catch the first inning. I have heard the damn National anthem ONCE and still missed the first pitch because we were hiking to the damn elevators. Which are conveniently placed at the back of the freaking world.

    So this whole spiel about the fan’s sucking and not supporting the club can eat me. I’m paying out the rear and going out of my way in both time and money to support my Rays, and yeah we are RABID rays fans. You made supporting the Rays a marathon of misery, now you wanna run off at the face because you can’t get what you need out of us??

    The trop is a pretty little turd some moron’s dropped in a very fancy and expensive toilet residing in the home of people who don’t freaking give a **** about baseball. At all.

    I have no idea how anyone with an IQ over 12 thought this stadium and location was a good idea. I’m dying to see the market research that allowed someone to give this stadium the go ahead nod. It has to be one of the grandest works of fiction ever written.

    I will continue to travel to the s#%t hole, because I love my Rays. I’d be lying through my teeth if I said I wouldn’t be thrilled to see the Rays move out of St. Pete. I continue to pray to the baseball God’s that the Rays relocate to a new Florida home. Tampa for example would be nice. Just sayin’…

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