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MLB on the Rays: “The status quo is simply not sustainable”

Jan 24, 2013, 6:47 PM EDT

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Earlier today, Rays owner Stuart Sternberg went before the Hillsborough County Commission meeting and said that MLB “no longer believes in the Tampa Bay area.” Per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, MLB has since released a statement on the matter:

“The Commissioner has had conversations with Stuart Sternberg and is disappointed with the current situation in the Tampa Bay market. The status quo is simply not sustainable. The Rays have been a model organization, averaging nearly 92 wins per year since 2008 and participating in the Postseason three times, including their inaugural World Series in 2008. Their .565 winning percentage over the last five years is second among all American League Clubs and third in all of Major League Baseball.  Last year, the 30 Major League Clubs averaged nearly 2.5 million in total attendance; the Rays, who finished with a 90-72 record, drew 1,559,681, which ranked last in the game. The Club is an eager contributor to worthy causes in the Tampa and St. Petersburg communities and takes pride in meeting the social responsibilities that come with being a Major League franchise.  We are hopeful that the market will respond in kind to a Club that has done a marvelous job on and off the field.”

The main issue for the Rays is that they are locked into their current lease at Tropicana Field until 2027. They have requested the ability to discuss other locations in Hillsborough County, but St. Petersburg mayor Bill Foster is standing in the way, presumably because the team would simply hop over to Tampa. MLB stopped short of threatening relocation in their statement today, but it appears they are happy to play the role of the bad guy if it can sway public opinion and put pressure on the local government.

  1. takavl - Jan 25, 2013 at 9:56 AM

    As a native Floridian (Pasco County, peeps) now living in baseball world — that would be the area of the NE from B’more to Boston (since ’99) — I ain’t crying and laughing at all of you pining for the Rays to do x, y, z, I’m crying and laughing WITH you. Here’s why —

    1) FL (and the Deep South) will never, ever, ever (sorry) NOT be on their knees in credulous worship of their blessed church, i.e., FOOTBALL! Hail yeah, mayen! There are reasons that FL was and still is Spring Training Land. Lessee; transient/tourist state, poor infrastructure, bad economy, retirees, poorly-paid service people, idiots/local yokels who can’t sit still for longer than the length of an average high school football game, etc. It has been and always will be the banana republic of the U.S., with some fits and starts and grasps at modernity (the Tampa public libary, UF, FSU, USF, etc). All of this translates into laughable attendance for an admirably-run team (the Rays). It’s a damn shame, but whaddaya gonna do?

    2) To those of you calling for a stadium move to Plant City or East Tampa, I think that you are letting your enthusiasm blind you to reality, see above. Football rules in the strip mall/pasture/orange grove wastelands, people. You KNOW this. Just stop. There is one reason people go to that part of town, besides meth, and that’s for strawberry shortcake. Related — the best thing that the voters of St. Pete have done in a while was to turn down a new stadium, but hey, if you all want to take it up, knock yourselves out. You really have to wonder about the voters in Hills. Co. after that abomination that the Bucs play in — do you really want to be tricked, AGAIN? Wanna join with the schmoes in Miami and Fort Myers feeling ripped off? Really?! Why do you guys fall for con jobs, particularly from people who wouldn’t think of hiking taxes by 1 cent for potholes, school lunches, or high speed rail? Duh.

    It was a noble experiment (the Devil, that’s DEVIL Rays, and the Marlins) but one that failed. At least there was the Latin market in Miami, (the Yanks have a foot hold in Tampa during March, inexplicably) but one that was highly overestimated, even after stupid post-Series firesales. As a kid I had to root for teams so far out of town (Braves, no…Cards, no…okay, how about Cincy? Yes!) they might as well have been on the moon…”let’s give the kids some state teams”….as I said, the thought was there, but in FL and the Deep dirty ‘murkin cricket will ALWAYS be outdrawn by a “fascist metaphor for nuclear annihilation.” (Loved that bit.) (Atlanta is a complete anomaly, its own little self-enclosed world of insularity that it works somehow, but that’s urbane GA, not FL. St. Louis doesn’t count, being the gateway and all, plus sitting on that historical trickle of wata.)

    Somewhat related — I always wondered about those dumb ray tanks and the little sand stingers in there. Devil rays are mantas, and much too large for petting, so yer gonna put these lil’ babies in there instead, and make that enclosed dome smell like the Ybor Aquarium? Ick.

    Anyway, keep fighting the good fight, and let the Sternberg experiment run its course. Enjoy all you can and evangelize your little hearts away. Go see any and every team you can during the spring. Put those stupid cowbells down, give them to your local high school band. I mean this with all sincerity, really I do…save those paychecks and those miles for a trip to B’more, NYC, Boston, hell, even Chicago, and come experience places with MANY people who care about baseball. I’m sorry, I know it hurts…but I didn’t know HOW it hurt until I moved up here….

    • bk9876 - Jan 25, 2013 at 2:18 PM

      I also live in the Tampa area….NOW! Not 15 years ago as you indicated. You are so out of touch with this issue. Your post is idiotic and full of un-related garbage spoken like a typical uneducated Red Sox fan. Try writing your thoughts down next time and edit them for six hours then you might make a single tangible point.

    • jrbdmb - Jan 30, 2013 at 5:20 PM

      Sober comments are typically far more enlightening. You should try it sometime.

  2. fabdeezy77 - Jan 25, 2013 at 2:10 PM

    Yeah your right Crnvic847 the Tampa Bay Lightning are sustainable professional sports team. Good try though

  3. bk9876 - Jan 25, 2013 at 2:34 PM

    There is only one reason a new stadium deal has not come to fruition. His name is (St. Pete) Mayor Foster, who is a complete moron. He has been stonewalling the stadium issue for over 2 years now. He is playing games (he stated 3 months ago he had a secret plan that was in the local news; turned out he had no plan). Another example, this week alone he called a press conference where he didn’t have his facts right. He claimed Sweetbay (grocery) decision to leave the city was a surprise. He had to tuck tail because he *forgot* that he met with SweetBay in April 2011 about improving Sweetbay (grocery store) traffic and this specific issue. The guy is a bum and he has been holding the stadium contract in the face of the Rays; in essence making them a corporate hostage. If he had any brains, he would be negotiating with the Rays to buyout the lease; then take the massive property he has in the area where the Rays stadium is now and re-use it for commercial purposes (condos and hotels). This area is one mile from a Marina.

    The good news is that he is up for re-election this Fall and I am sure the voters will not forget his blunders: stadium deal, sweetbay, and oh lets not forget he assured the citizens the RNC security would not cost the taxpayers a dime…it came out this week it cost the city $30,000 (his numbers) paper reported it was $518K. Incompetence!

    The VOTERS will speak and solve this problem or at least get it going in the right direction this Fall.

    • leeeroooyjeeenkiiins - Jan 26, 2013 at 12:40 AM

      I sure hope so, but as we’ve seen time and time again all across the country, the average voter isn’t nearly as informed as you are. Particularly on “minor” political offices like a mayor. Many people simply go in with the “well I haven’t heard anything horrible so he must be ok!” mentality and vote yes without even doing 5 minutes of research.

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