Skip to content

St. Petersburg council rejects plan to let the Rays look at out-of-town stadium sites

Feb 8, 2013, 12:30 PM EDT

Tropicana Field Getty Getty Images

Earlier this week we wrote about this long shot bill to allow the Tampa Bay Rays to look outside of St. Petersburg for potential stadium cites. Well, forget it:

A proposal to let the Tampa Bay Rays examine stadium sites in Hillsborough County went nowhere Thursday. St. Petersburg City Council members even rejected a motion to have their attorney evaluate the proposal’s legal implications.

There is basically zero incentive for the city to give anything to the Rays, so it’s probably not too surprising.

The article goes on to report that Rays owner Stuart Sternberg will possibly speak to the St. Pete council soon. When he spoke to other regional bodies recently he went on about how Major League Baseball finds the Rays’ situation untenable and may contract them or something.  I hope someone on the council grills Sternberg on this and reveals just how empty a threat it is.*

UPDATE: That last sentence was probably unfair. I looked back at the historical back and forth about the Rays stadium situation. While many people have thrown contraction out there as a possibility — and while I continue to believe that such a possibility is ludicrous given  the logistics that would be involved in contraction — Sternberg himself has not threatened contraction.  He has noted MLB’s lack of confidence in St. Petereburg as a baseball market and, when pressed, once said that the franchise could be “vaporized,” but he has never used the threat of contraction when talking to St. Petereburg, Hillsborough County or other players in the game down there.

  1. beachnbaseball - Feb 8, 2013 at 12:48 PM

    Either contract the Rays or move them and let MLB pay a settlement to St. Petersburg. Anything to get out of that hell hol;e of a stadium.

    • JB (the original) - Feb 8, 2013 at 1:29 PM

      I don’t recall the MLB signing a contract enslaving them to St. Pete, so why should they (all the other teams) pay off the city? Unlike the gov’t bailing out the financially inept (corrupt) banks which was universally panned, the MLB isn’t going to collapse due the ineptness of one team to be smart financially.

      • paperlions - Feb 8, 2013 at 1:50 PM

        TB has a lease. You can’t just go around breaking leases without paying a price….and whatever it would cost to break the lease will be a lot cheaper for MLB than contraction. First, because they would have to contract an even number of teams; second, because to contract teams MLB would first have to buy those franchises from their owners at fair market value, and third, because the MLBPA would put up a stink about losing 7%.

      • JB (the original) - Feb 8, 2013 at 2:03 PM

        Exactly. The Rays have a lease, not the MLB as a whole. I never said anything about contraction either. Let them (ownership and St. Pete) live in the mire they created for themselves. When things get ugly enough, something will happen; what, who knows, but it shouldn’t be on everyone else to pay for the mistakes of one owner, should it?

    • Old Gator - Feb 8, 2013 at 1:29 PM

      Hell hole? Isn’t there a more organic first syllable you can think of?

      Anyway, I think it’s great that St. Petersburg wants to keep the nation focused on what an irremediable fringe-of-the-world slum it is and what a dump the Tropicana Tumulus is. Not many municipalities take that kind of pride in their shortcomings.

      • Rockie D. Bull - Feb 8, 2013 at 2:23 PM

        So bow to Uncle Bud and Stu like the Miami community did to build the new “Blow Hole”? Look where that new stadium has lead the Blow Fish to – lining the pockets of the owner at tax payer expense – yet no one shows up at the games.

        Its not the hot sun in Miami any more like one of the many old excuses for lacking attendance – and still, no one shows up to the Blow Fish games.

        Rain outs are now a thing of the past in Miami – still again, no one shows up at the brand new new park.

        Why would anyone think that getting screwed royally, by Stu, Uncle Bud and MLB like the Miami taxpayers had the short site to do to themselves, is going to fly in the Tampa area?

      • Old Gator - Feb 8, 2013 at 3:31 PM

        And what does any of that have to do with the Razed being stuck in a dump in a slum where they can’t draw flies?

      • Rockie D. Bull - Feb 9, 2013 at 10:09 AM

        “And what does any of that have to do with the Razed being stuck in a dump in a slum where they can’t draw flies?”

        “A dump” in your short sited, blind, non-Tampa Bay eyes. The Miami tax payers are on the hook for years to come, and that stupid owner was smart enough to take the whole community to the cleaners. I think the Tampa Bay tax payers on both sides of the Bay are more adept at exercising their collective intelligence than our Blow Fish tax payer counterparts down in Miami. Now that you have that new park, it makes no difference – they still don’t show up. What makes you or Stu or MLB think attendance would be any different in Tampa Bay with a new stadium at another location? The “Blow Hole” with that moronic contraption in the outfield is physical proof to all sports cities that just because you build it, does not mean any more fans will show up at the games.

        You constantly knock the Trop any chance you get – which is comical after looking at how well the new “Blow Hole” has worked out in Miami. Who conceives and builds a stadium with only 5000 parking spots and then dictates to home owners in the neighborhood that they cannot park on the street in front of their own home during games? Only in Miami… where Uncle Bud and “Scrooge” were able to successfully horns-waggle the tax payers (fans) into the worst stadium deal ever.

        Just because the Miami tax payers were stupid enough to fall for building a new ball park doesn’t mean the Tampa Bay tax payers are going to bite on the same line of rich, millionaire team ownership bull spit.

      • badintent - Feb 9, 2013 at 11:51 PM

        @Rockie D.Bull
        Think corrupt politicians and super rich ripoff owners are unique only to Florida ? We had Paul” $$ 35 Billion ” Allen threaten to take his Sea Hawks and walk if he didn’t get $ 500 MILLION DOLLARS from the local tax papers to build his new stadium.
        I heard from my St Pete guy that Dan Marino’s sportsbar closed last year. That tells me that the locals have no $$$$.

    • Rockie D. Bull - Feb 8, 2013 at 2:53 PM

      “Anything to get out of that hell hol;e of a stadium.”

      Ok Beach – how about this “anything” solution – you use your own money to make this happen. Then you and Stu and Uncle Bud can all be owners of the team together, at a stadium you deem suitable and not a “hell hol;e”.

      And once you have built it and the fans still don’t show up (think Miami’s brand new “Blow Hole”), what will you be clamoring for at that point to fix the attendance problem after “new stadium” has been checked of the list?

      And if you put it Tampa some place – rush hour will kill the attendance factor worse than it does right now in St Pete. Instead of “hard to get to because you have to cross a bridge”, what will be the the new excuse Rays management and Uncle Bud will use to explain/complain about attendance.

  2. cackalackyank - Feb 8, 2013 at 2:08 PM

    Really a shame that St. Pete is thinking only of their bottom line and not a regional picture. The Rays seem to actually be one of the better orginaztions out there, remaining competitive inspite of a miserable venue. Don’t think the League would go for it, but the idea of moving the team and everyone chipping in on the fees would make some sense for the good of MLB as a whole. Problem is they may have to do something like that for the A’s too.

    • Rockie D. Bull - Feb 8, 2013 at 2:37 PM

      “The Rays seem to actually be one of the better orginaztions out there”

      They had a great farm system to develop young players. Beyond that, their marketing in the “region” is not what it should be. The team ownership focus remains on railroading a new (and unnecessary) stadium into this area. Stu should try getting the most out of what he already has, its not like he didn’t know about the lease and the stadium before he bought the team.

      He could start by not dogging the fans that do attend the games instead of collectively lumping everyone into a blanket statement. The first time he did it, I was at the game he referred to – an 11 – 0 loss that was 9 – 0 in the top of the 2d inning. His product on the field that night deserved the 9,000 or so that showed up to watch that debacle. I did not go to another game that season after he made those comments about the fans of Tampa Bay.

      The answer is simple – the millionaire owner buys out the current lease and builds his new stadium where ever he wants to build it – Pinellas, Hillsborough, or Timbuktu – as long as he does it all with his own money.

      • indaburg - Feb 8, 2013 at 3:29 PM

        I believe that not marketing well is part of Sternberg’s strategy. By trashing the stadium and dismissing the fans that do show up, he further drives down attendance, which in turn makes it look like the Rays need a new stadium even more. A new stadium will improve the value of his initial investment.

      • unclemosesgreen - Feb 8, 2013 at 3:43 PM

        Omigod – what if indaburg is right, and it’s like “The Producers” – maybe they’ve triple sold the team ownership shares and the only way to get out is to lose lose lose money?

  3. Rockie D. Bull - Feb 8, 2013 at 2:14 PM

    Here we go again, same story, different day – same arguments on all sides. Maybe instead of only taking the “we need a new stadium” path, Stu and company should get busy with some real local marketing and promotion of the team – at it’s current location because their games are being played there for the foreseeable future. The way I see this continued argument is – a rich MLB owner wants a new toy and until he gets it, he doesn’t care about his own team as long as they are bound to play at the Trop.

    Stu knew what he was getting (the Trop lease) when he bought the team, he could have gone for the Mets but CHOSE the Rays instead. Stu and Uncle Bud are trying to impose another “Blow Hole” like stadium on the Tampa Bay area. We all now know the result of that experiment is nothing more than rich millionaires getting richer at the expense of the tax payers. NO THANK YOU!

    If Stu and Bud want a new stadium here, the first thing out of their collective mouths should be – “it will be paid for entirely with private funds” (Stu’s and Bud’s or MLB’s). You can no longer pull the wool over the eyes of the tax payers and blatantly steal from the public as was done (and will continue to be done for years to come) in Miami and then try to sell the same bill of goods in Tampa Bay or any where else without the prospective fan bases noticing and not going along with it.

    Those in favor of a Tampa based stadium think that is the magic answer – without considering that traffic going to a ball game Monday through Friday in Tampa will actually be worse (regardless of the stadium location) than trying to get to the current location.

    Implode Wrigley and Fenway and then MAYBE there could be a real case made for the Rays “needing” a new stadium. Those twin dumps have more than stood the test of time and are both long overdue for replacement before even considering the Trop. The Cubs ownership cannot get the City of Chicago to buy in to upgrades with public funds to prop up “falling down Wrigley”. The Boston ownership remains content (along with MLB’s blessing) to stay in Fenway even though there are putting greens bigger that that ball park.

    I continue to contend that – “There is NOTHING wrong with the Trop or its location!”

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 8, 2013 at 6:37 PM

      Stu and company should get busy with some real local marketing and promotion of the team – at it’s current location because their games are being played there for the foreseeable future.

      Read this book. The current ownership has already put a ton of money into marketing and promotion to try and get more ticket holders, and they only saw a marginal increase. They did things like free parking for two years, letting people bring their own food into the stadiums, holding concerts after games, etc. While the situation may not be as dire as Stu mentions, don’t act like they bought the team and have been resting on their laurels. They had a ton of problems from prior ownership they had to correct.

      • Rockie D. Bull - Feb 9, 2013 at 9:50 AM

        I agree that they did a lot of marketing – through the 2009 season. Then they proposed building “the Broiler” as an idea for a new ball park at the old Al Lang field site and were roundly rejected by the community. Since then, instead of marketing the team to make the best of what they do have, all we hear from Stu are how bad the fans are for not attending games – and that’s always after games where the attendance is low and the Rays stink up the field and the game is out of hand in the 2d inning. Meanwhile, Stu is most frequently seen attending Mets games during the season instead of Rays games.

        Now, they hardly advertise the team; instead, they are choosing pressers about how St Pete is the bad guy for wanting them to honor the lease that Stu knew about when he bought the team and how MLB feels the St Pete location is not viable. During the regular season, I hear the odd radio spot plugging upcoming games but that is about it. They had the summer concert games going for a couple years that drew loads of fans (30,000 plus), then they downgraded the quality of the acts and adopted a wishy-washy schedule (instead of consistently always on a Saturday night). They thought having a post game DJ and dancing in the outfield (along with high $ Vince Namoli beers) on Friday nights would keep folks after the game. That didn’t work either, as a pitcher of beer at Ferg’s just across the street is cheaper than 1 beer at the Trop and he always has a DJ on Friday night.

        With spring training coming up, the Rays big push is on to get fans to drive 60 miles to their new spring training home in NoWhereVille (Port Charlotte) for afternoon games – good luck with that since Tampa fans won’t drive across a bridge to go to regular season games. Not to mention, if Rays fans want to watch them play the Jays, Phillies and Yanks, the drive is no further that 10 miles.

  4. mf44srq - Feb 8, 2013 at 2:18 PM

    Here’s an idea. Let’s merge the Marlins and Rays, then flat-bed the stadium up to the I-4 / I-75 junction, and implode the Trop The Rays get their beautiful, profitable, and accessible ballpark, and Loria sucks it…

    • JB (the original) - Feb 8, 2013 at 2:26 PM

      ala North Stars and Barons?

  5. randygnyc - Feb 8, 2013 at 3:50 PM

    Craig got a call from someone important to correct this story, amright???

  6. strawhatcook - Feb 8, 2013 at 10:00 PM

    The guy above me is correct, the ownership has done a ton of marketing and it got nothing. I live 5 mins away and have been a season ticket member since ’09 and its starting to kill me that no one comes here. This team is great and really the Trop isn’t the worst place, it may not be pretty but its clean and has AC. I’m for the move, be it to Tampa/Hillsborough or out of state. People who don’t want to drive here are just freaking lazy! That’s not a excuse! I have TB Lightning tickets and have yet to miss a game! This team deserves better.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. D. Wright (2529)
  2. D. Span (2366)
  3. G. Stanton (2317)
  4. Y. Puig (2271)
  5. J. Fernandez (2234)
  1. B. Crawford (2133)
  2. G. Springer (2065)
  3. M. Teixeira (1850)
  4. M. Sano (1831)
  5. J. Hamilton (1774)