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Rays ownership: MLB is tired of sustaining us with revenue sharing

Aug 29, 2013, 2:00 PM EDT

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Here’s a story from the Tampa Bay Times about the Rays brass meeting with Tampa Bay area business leaders. The takeaway: other baseball owners are tired of sustaining the Rays with revenue sharing. Such sustaining, then, is, er, unsustainable.

From a guy at the meeting:

“People asked questions about Bud Selig and his recent comments,” Sykes said. “Bud’s a very patient guy with these things, but (other team owners) are not happy with the situation … because if you think about it, the thing right now that’s really sustaining the team is revenue-sharing.”

Bud’s “recent comments” were about how Major League Baseball would “intervene” in the Rays’ stadium situation. Which, short of buying out their lease and helping them get a new ballpark, I’m not sure what they could do. They are already intervening with revenue sharing, obviously.

  1. chacochicken - Aug 29, 2013 at 2:08 PM

    Isn’t there a Ted talk or youtube how to video about leveraging and threatening the local municipality into subsidizing a new stadium?

    • alexo0 - Aug 29, 2013 at 2:15 PM

      Step 1: Sell the team to Jeff Loria…

      • indaburg - Aug 29, 2013 at 6:42 PM

        Shoot me now.

    • unclemosesgreen - Aug 29, 2013 at 2:19 PM

      Sure there is chaco – Jeffrey Loria is the moderator and more than 2/3 of NFL owners are on the stage. But you can only get the feed if you belong to the Billionaire Boys Club.

  2. jbriggs81 - Aug 29, 2013 at 2:10 PM

    Couldn’t MLB and owners from other teams put together a good offer to leaseholder (is it the city of tampa?) of the Trop to buy the Rays out of their lease early? The incentive would be that as soon as the Rays could bring in fans to a new stadium and making money, the other owners would not have to pay the Rays year after year in revenue sharing.
    I would assume that the city would rather get a lump sum now, rather than payments every year, so they may be willing to take less in a lump sum and avoid legal battles and further negotiations

    • flamethrower101 - Aug 29, 2013 at 2:16 PM

      It’s a shame how all of this is playing out. From everything I’ve read, if I’m correct, it seems a lot of the other owners have a great deal of respect and admiration for the way the Rays have handled all of this. Not just their stadium situation, but also their ability to contend for a playoff spot year after year with such an inept ability to spend on free agents.

      But this is ridiculous. The Tampa Bay area seems to either be completely oblivious to the fact that their situation is benefiting neither party of they simply don’t give a damn. And that’s a shame. The Rays have been a model organization for years now in terms of both class & dignity, and in operating a successful product.

      • js20011041 - Aug 29, 2013 at 2:32 PM

        I’m not exactly sure how shaming the public about attendance (which is done with subtlety, but also regularity) is operating with “class and dignity.” Sure, they’re better than the flaming turd that was Vince Naimoli, but name one other industry, just one, in which the consumer is blamed for the failings of the business.

        The Rays can blame the stadium location all they want, and to be sure, it is the primary problem. But there are also other issues that make watching the game on TV more desirable than actually attending. For one thing, if I’m paying $60 a ticket, I don’t want to be charged another $20 for parking. The food, substandard in quality, is also ridiculously priced. Add that to the fact that it’s at least 3 hours of driving round trip for someone from eastern Hillsborough County, and it’s not hard at all to see why more people don’t go to games.

      • indaburg - Aug 29, 2013 at 7:02 PM

        js20011041, the money excuse is a weak one, unless you are poverty stricken. If that is the case, then absolutely, one has more important priorities than a baseball game. I am assuming that is not your circumstance.

        When I don’t have a parking pass (I have nice friends), I park for free at the park just south of the stadium off 5th Ave S. You walk on the overpass that crosses over I-175. It takes an extra 5 minutes to get to the stadium, and you get a little exercise. Yes, it is on the “south side” but it is quite safe. There is usually a crowd of people going back after the game, and the parking lot is well lit. I just saved you $20 (although good lord, there is usually $5 parking if you’re willing to walk a couple of blocks. Why are you paying $20? Are you that scared of walking in St. Pete?)

        Tickets can also be had quite cheaply. I purchased tickets earlier this season to Dickey v. Price for $25. I sat in section 103, row AA. That’s directly behind home plate lower level. Deals like that can be easily had on stubhub. There are many deals all around the stadium too, if you prefer to purchase your tickets directly from the Rays.

        The Rays also allow you to bring your own food and water, as long as the water bottle is still sealed so there is no need to pay for expensive food which doesn’t suit your delicate palate. I like Kayem hot dogs at the stadium, but I’m a cheap date. All I want is a single hot dog and one beer. The tab is about $15 for food.

        The driving time–well, that is true. If you live far from the stadium in northeast Hillsborough, it sucks to be you. It can take awhile. I live in northeast Clearwater. Let’s see…according to Google maps, I am exactly 14.1 miles from 1 Tropicana Drive. It takes me approximately 20 minutes to get to the game. In my opinion, the ideal location would be Channelside, next to the Ice Palace (I refuse to call it the corporate name they gave it). They can coordinate schedules with the Lightning, and share parking facilities. The young professionals with money who live on Harbor Island and South Tampa will have easy access to the stadium, as will families all over Tampa. I also think people in Pinellas are more willing to go east than Hillsborough people are willing to come west for whatever reason. Maybe we’re used to traveling for Bucs games (I personally wouldn’t–yuck, football–but I do travel for Lightning).

    • raysfan1 - Aug 29, 2013 at 2:47 PM

      1) St Petersburg, not Tampa.
      2) St Petersburg is already on record stating they will not accept a buy out except in the case of moving elsewhere in St Petersburg. They will definitely not accept a discounted lump sum payment.

      • Old Gator - Aug 29, 2013 at 3:34 PM

        I wonder if the Rays could obviate the contract through bankruptcy.

  3. mornelithe - Aug 29, 2013 at 2:16 PM

    It’s pretty sad how small the representative fanbase for the Rays is, at their ballpark. They’ve been extremely competitive in one of the toughest divisions in baseball, and you routinely have crowds for visiting team drowning out the Rays fans in their own ballpark. I’m not sure what the issue is, myself. Have never been to the trop, so I’m not sure if it’s a dump, or if the ticket prices are too high or what. But it’d be nice to see the Rays get some support.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 29, 2013 at 2:47 PM

      I’m not sure what the issue is, myself.

      Location, location, location

      • indaburg - Aug 29, 2013 at 7:21 PM

        Location, location, location is a large part of the issue, but it is more complicated than that.


        A BIG issue–a large transplant population who bring and keep their hometown allegiances (I’m looking at you, New Yawkers, and Bahstonians, and Philadelphians). They don’t support baseball. They support their team. They couldn’t care less if the Rays stay.

        Competition with spring training/minor league teams and a ton of things to do. The Rays have the Clearwater Threshers (Phillies minor league affiliate) located about 15 miles away. The Tampa Yankees across the bay. Not to mention all those spring training teams that allow all those transplants to maintain ties with their hometown teams. Plus… beaches. Gorgeous free beaches. More strip clubs per capita than any other city in the US (or so the rumor goes–I haven’t checked the hard data). There’s a lot of competition for the Tampa Bay dollar.

        Lack of public transportation. You either drive or you’re not going.

        All the games are on TV for free (well, free as part of my cable package, which is basic cable). My futon is comfortable. My TV has high definition. My beer is cheaper. I can have more than 1 beer because I know I’m not driving. I still go to the games way more than the average fan–I can’t even count how many games I’ve been to this season, but I understand why someone, after they’ve worked a hard 10 hour day on their feet as I have, would opt to stay home.

        So… there are a lot of reasons. But bottom line is, it sucks to go to the stadium and see so few people enjoying the great product these boys are putting out on the field. I hope someday, they get to feel the joy of playing in front of electric crowds.

  4. whitdog23 - Aug 29, 2013 at 2:22 PM

    tired of owners akways blaming their stadiums. didn’t the rays feel it would attract fans when they built it?? now all of a sudden it’s a different tune Zzzzzzz

    • chill1184 - Aug 29, 2013 at 2:24 PM

      The Trop was opened back in 1990, the Rays didnt exist until 1998

      • raysfan1 - Aug 29, 2013 at 2:50 PM

        Opened in 1990, construction actually began in 1986.

      • brewcrewfan54 - Aug 29, 2013 at 6:01 PM

        I think the White Sox were also considering a move before new Comiskey was built. Or more likely Tampa was used as leverage to get new Comiskey built.

      • raysfan1 - Aug 29, 2013 at 7:08 PM

        I think the White Sox thing was just leverage. However, the deal to sell the Giants and move them to Tampa Bay had been made, but MLB intervened to keep them in SF…and that was still after the “Florida Suncoast Dome” had been built.

    • paperlions - Aug 29, 2013 at 2:26 PM

      The owners didn’t build it, it was built before they got a team, when it looked like the Giants might move there…then it just sat around as they got screwed in a round of expansion and waited for the next round….I’m not familiar with all the details, but the stadium is a lot older than the team.

  5. chill1184 - Aug 29, 2013 at 2:22 PM

    Can the rest of the MLB owners get tired of Fred Wilpon? Its not like the Rays ownership is full of bad people, Im just saying theres a more deserving target of other owners anger

  6. aceshigh11 - Aug 29, 2013 at 2:35 PM

    Red Sox fans are tired of it too.

    • indaburg - Aug 29, 2013 at 7:22 PM

      For entirely different reasons…

  7. jpthereafter - Aug 29, 2013 at 2:38 PM

    It’s such a shame as this team is very good and fun to watch. The only way to solve this is for people to start going to games. PERIOD. Tickets are dirt cheap and you don’t have to sweat your ass off in the Florida heat. Otherwise it will be the best option to relocate or contract the Rays.

  8. losangelesfan - Aug 29, 2013 at 2:51 PM

    Memphis Rays

    They could have a big head Ray Charles as the mascot.

  9. shaggylocks - Aug 29, 2013 at 3:01 PM

    I can work and use the computer and internet! It’s true! I do it all the time!

    • shaggylocks - Aug 29, 2013 at 3:05 PM

      This made a lot more sense when it was mocking that now-deleted spam post…

  10. jonusb - Aug 29, 2013 at 3:25 PM

    I have one word that would solve the Rays’ problems: MOVE.

    • shaggylocks - Aug 29, 2013 at 3:29 PM

      Holy hell, I think we’ve hit on something here! That would solve so many problems! Did you tell the Rays? They really need to know about this!!!

  11. kalinedrive - Aug 29, 2013 at 3:32 PM

    I can’t find any information on how much the lease is per year. Anyone?

    • kalinedrive - Aug 29, 2013 at 3:59 PM

      Well, here is an interesting document

      Section 4.02 – Ticket Stub Funds paid to Capital Account and the CITY

      In lieu of rent, the Club pays to the City and into a Capital Account, a portion of ticket
      sales, which is calculated based on the following:
      1) “Beginning with the AMT [(active management term)] and thereafter during
      the Term, $.50 for each Ticket Stub Collected for any baseball or non-baseball
      2) In each and every Year of the Term that the number of Ticket Stubs Collected
      for regular season MLB Home Games exceed 3,300,000, in addition to the
      $.50 above, $.25 for each such Ticket Stub Collected in excess of the
      3,300,000.” –pg. 17

      The Club shall pay according to the following terms:
      1) “The first $250,000 shall be paid into the Capital Account.
      2) The next $100,000 shall be paid to the CITY and represent the rent to be paid
      from the Ticket Stub Funds. . . .
      3) Any amount over $350,000 shall be paid to the CITY to reimburse the expenses
      incurred and the services provided by the CITY under this Agreement.” –pg. 18

      Section 4.03 – DOME Naming Rights
      If the team sells the name of the DOME, then it shall pay accordingly:
      a) “The first $800,000 shall be retained by the CLUB.
      b) The next $250,000 shall be paid by the CLUB into the Capital Account.
      c) The next $500,000 shall be paid 50% to the CLUB and 50% to the CITY.
      d) Any amount over $1,550,000 shall be paid 85% to the CLUB and 15% to the

      “[T]he CLUB shall be solely responsible for the cost of any capital repairs, renewals or
      replacements exceeding the moneys available in the Capital Account and applicable
      available insurance proceeds.”

      Section 5.02 – Additional Contributions to the Capital Account
      In addition to the Ticket Stub Funds deposited to the Capital Account, beginning with the
      sixth year of the AMT, the CLUB is expected to contribute $700,000 annually, totaling
      $4,200,000 for the six consecutive years until the eleventh year of the AMT.”

      Section 4.01 – Fee for Services-Stadium Revenues
      “During the AMT [(active management term)] the CLUB shall pay all costs and expenses
      of operation, maintenance and management of the DOME, including, but not limited to,
      all gas, electricity and other utilities related to the operation of the DOME and production
      of all events taking place at the DOME.”

      The agreement does not include a specific reference to a non-relocation clause; however,
      if the CLUB defaults on any payments subject to the Ticket Stub Funds and/or payments
      to the Capital Account, the CITY has the right “to seek and obtain an injunction or decree
      of specific performance or an equitable remedy from a court of competent jurisdiction to
      enjoin or remedy any violation of the Agreement.”

      They don’t have to worry about exceeding 3.3 million attendance. Let’s say you estimate it at 20,000 per game, which is better than they have been doing, that’s 1.62 million per year, at 50 cents per ticket that’s $800K for ticket stub funds. I don’t know what non-baseball events the club would be responsible for.

      The club gets to keep the first $800K for naming rights, but I don’t suppose Tropicana would continue to pay for naming rights if there wasn’t a baseball team there. Still, if they don’t sell naming rights, they don’t have to pay anything, so the city can’t necessarily assume they should get anything.

      The additional contributions of $700K per year for years 6-11 are already done, since the agreement is in it’s 18th year.

      Costs and expenses of operation, maintenance, etc. can’t be that much.

      So realistically, the city can only be getting a few million dollars a year from the Rays. Why can’t they just agree to keep getting whatever the average amount has been per year so far, for the next 14 years, and let the Rays go? The Rays can certainly afford to pay $5 million a year, even with the new expenses of a new ballpark.

      • kalinedrive - Aug 29, 2013 at 4:01 PM

        Oops, well the first quote is from the document and the second quote was supposed to be after an endquote and is my opinion.

  12. tampafan24 - Aug 29, 2013 at 4:25 PM

    While it is true that the Rays fans should be more supportive by going to the games it is also significant that the television ratings for the Rays games are among the top of the league. The Tampa area supports the Rays but the location is just absolutely terrible. As for the attendance numbers, it is even more significant that the Rays actually have close to the number of people announced attending the games. By allowing the teams to report tickets sold it appears that more people are going to a Marlins or Astros game than to a Rays game when that is simply not true.

    The Rays have very few luxury suites in the current stadium but they may have been able to make it in the Trop until the end of their lease if it weren’t for the terrible lease that they are stuck in. According to reports the Rays do not get any of the money from the sale of concessions at the stadium. If this is accurate then it is no wonder why they cannot survive in the current location. Move the stadium to Tampa, the Lightning sell out consistently and a Rays stadium near Channelside would be perfect complement.

  13. tomtravis76 - Aug 29, 2013 at 4:27 PM

    I am sure the rays have some very loyal die hard fans, but the franchise and mlb might be better off in another market like okc, charlotte or Indianapolis.

    • thejoker44 - Aug 29, 2013 at 5:16 PM

      Jacksonville, FL. or Orlando.

      • brewcrewfan54 - Aug 29, 2013 at 6:04 PM

        Jacksonville already doesn’t support their football team so no chance. The coveted next market would be Charlotte or Memphis.

  14. bh0673 - Aug 29, 2013 at 4:28 PM

    It is a pity they are a good team with a crummy stadium in the wrong location. Went there a few years ago and sat on the causeway through two innings trying to get there. Glad I went but if that stadium was on the Tampa side instead of the St. Pete side they would do well and it wouldn’t be an issue. If I lived down there would I want to deal with the traffic getting there and back probably not. Yet I will drive 60 miles to Yankee Stadium at least 15 to 20 games a year. Now there is traffic getting there as well but the big difference is I have several ways to get to the George Washington Bridge to get over in New York and once over the bridge several ways to get to the stadium and if traffic is real bad I can take a train. Can’t to that in Tampa really one main way in and out.

  15. thejoker44 - Aug 29, 2013 at 4:35 PM

    Tampa dont deserve a MLB Team.

    • foreverchipper10 - Aug 30, 2013 at 10:15 AM

      You doesn’t make sense.

  16. thejoker44 - Aug 29, 2013 at 5:08 PM

    I drive one hour and 45 minutes about 95 miles, i live in Kisimmee, last year i assist to 21 games, i dont see any problems with the stadium, the real problem with this franchise are the fans that do not support the team.

    • spursareold - Aug 29, 2013 at 6:31 PM

      You’re already on the StP side of the bay. There are people from Tampa that probably drive half the distance, but the same amount of time as you. Traversing the bay is the issue.

  17. redmanrt - Aug 29, 2013 at 5:08 PM

    A new stadium will not necessarily solve the problem. Ship the Marlins off to Havana so the Rays can have the Florida market to themselves.

    • indaburg - Aug 29, 2013 at 7:24 PM

      Can we have their stadium too? Just box it up and ship to 1 Channelside Drive. Thanks.

      • redmanrt - Aug 30, 2013 at 7:35 AM

        Seriously, wouldn’t it simpler to improve access? Is the stadium really that bad? I know that the dome comes in handy in bad weather.

      • indaburg - Aug 30, 2013 at 7:38 AM

        It’s not THAT bad. She’s not photogenic, the Trop. But on the rare occasion that she is packed, and it is steamy/rainy outside, it is a fun and comfortable place to be.

        But the Marlins Stadium is newer and has that monstrosity in the outfield.

  18. thejoker44 - Aug 29, 2013 at 5:27 PM

    Last week: The team was half-game of first place, and that night they had twelve thousand fans in the park, I was there.

  19. Reflex - Aug 29, 2013 at 6:44 PM

    How does the “Montreal Rays” sound? 😉

    • indaburg - Aug 29, 2013 at 7:27 PM

      Les Rays de Montreal? Just fine. When I win the Powerball, I’m buying the Rays, and moving them to Montreal. You’ll see. I think it’s a much more feasible market than any other available US one.

      • Reflex - Aug 29, 2013 at 8:57 PM

        I actually agree, they supported their team well when it was worth watching, just like most MLB cities.

      • indaburg - Aug 29, 2013 at 9:17 PM

        Before Loria destroyed the Expos, yes, they did support them well. I don’t think Sternberg would mind moving them there either. He’s a New Yorker–he has no ties to the Tampa Bay area.

  20. buffalo65 - Aug 29, 2013 at 7:38 PM

    You won’t have to, bell is already looking into it. Compete with Rogers, all games on tsn. Gonna happen.
    Right a wrong Bud. Get baseball back in Montreal.

  21. jannengajr - Aug 29, 2013 at 7:56 PM

    @indaburg Charlotte and Portland and San Antonio are all better Baseball Markets then Montreal

  22. jannengajr - Aug 29, 2013 at 8:02 PM

    (I would like to see the lease) because if it doesn’t mandate that ya can’t play anywhere else, then I say Build a New Stadium in Tampa and Play your games their and still pay the rent in St. Pete and let them take the rays to court and the Judge will say the lease can only dictate that you pay your rental payments, but the law can’t make ya play their……Its no different then you renting a house and staying at your Girlfriends……A Landlord couldn’t take you back to court and try to evict ya if your rents paid just because you chose not to live their…..

    • Jeff M. - Aug 30, 2013 at 1:57 AM

      I hate to be nitpicky, but a lot of housing contracts do, in fact, say that you have to actually live in the place that you’re renting. Otherwise the landlord considers that you’ve abandoned the property, confiscates your stuff, and rents it to somebody else. I’ve never known for this to actually happen to anybody, but it is theoretically possible. My rental agreement does have this clause in it.

      That said, I’d be interested in knowing if your idea would work. I’m sure there’s a creative way out of the Ray’s situation.

  23. harkafella - Aug 30, 2013 at 8:22 AM

    Rays were founded in ’98. Their “organic fan base” is 15 years old and younger. Everyone else from the region grew up supporting other teams. While some older fans have converted, many continue to support the teams they grew up supporting for 20-30 years prior to Rays existence. Combine this with the fact that Tropicana Field is located in St. Pete – literally over the bridge and disconnected from Tampa area. It’s near impossible for the working class in Tampa to make it to weekday games due to location and access. That’s why you see 10,000 St. Pete grey hairs in attendance for all week day games. If the stadium were located in downtown Tampa, there would be a ton more corporate and working class support (i.e. Tampa Bay Lightning). The City of St Pete won’t let Rays out of lease and refuses to cooperate with Tampa to resolve issue. The blind ignorance of St Pete brass is truly incredible.

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