TAMPA - Here were go again -- the same old albatross hanging over Tampa Bay’s head is about to rear its head.
Not to say we weren’t bracing ourselves for this most untimely discussion. Rays Owner Stuart Sternberg brought the subject to light about a year ago.
A new Rays' stadium is the topic, but I’m not quite sure who or what to believe at this point.
A recent article by Bill Madden of the NY Daily News highlighted possible scenarios for baseball down the road, sooner than later. One was realignment, another revenue sharing, yet another, cost containment in the draft.
But this is the one that caught my eye. Realignment would not include the Tampa Bay Rays. Instead the franchise would go poof.
Not in the form of moving, but by contraction.
Apparently, there is a growing sentiment by baseball owners that the Rays and Oakland A’s are ripe for contraction. Both have what a few baseball executives term as “hopeless stadium situations.”
There’s more. Those execs and more are also tired of “trying to keep the teams afloat” through revenue sharing.
One executive went so far to say in the article that “the biggest mistake we ever made was expanding into Florida. The Rays are hopeless, and I have serious doubts about the Marlins surviving in that new stadium of theirs.”
None of the executives were named in the article.
As I write here today, I again say, I don’t know what to believe.
Is baseball throwing the contraction option in our face to speed up a stadium being built for the Rays?
Is baseball really serious about nixing the entire franchise along with Oakland?
I have dealt with baseball owners, attended numerous baseball meetings during the time the area was a fledging expansion site, and I have come to learn one thing.
Baseball only cares about itself, and the owners really only care about their own team.
Stuart Sternberg is not going to get much sympathy from the other owners.
Oh, he’ll get Commissioner Bud behind him on this stadium issue. Expect that talk to be coming in the near future.
What really hit me was the tone of these unnamed executives who ripped our team as being a burden to them.
My guess is these Rays are the very team that beat their team two of the last three years for the AL East pennant.
My guess is they the very execs who spent millions trying to build a winner, only to be cracked over the helmet by a team whose payroll is rather meager by baseball standards.
My guess is they are only too hopeful that this franchise would go away so that their “threat” to the post-season is eliminated.
What will happen in the coming weeks behind closed doors is anyone’s guess. MLB has to work on a new collective bargaining agreement of their own.
However, if baseball does come calling on the Tampa Bay area, Commissioner Bud better make his league’s intentions known.
None of this “that’s an option” or “it’s under consideration.” We, or at least I, want to know EXACTLY what you want.
If it is just a stadium being built, which is a long-shot, so be it,
If you’re going to slice this franchise from your little fraternity, come out and say it.
Don’t start threatening this area. Don’t even try.
We have dealt with baseball’s lies and misinformation in the past. Come clean, and be truthful.
Contrary to what one exec said about expanding into Florida, I believe he is wrong, at least here in the Tampa Bay region.
There is a tremendous interest in the Rays here. Even Stuart Sternberg pointed out the soaring TV ratings of his games last season.
I know he would rather see those viewers in the seats at Tropicana Field.
Perhaps he will.
But there is one economic boost, not only to the Rays and other sports franchises in the area, which has not been addressed adequately for many years now.
That is bringing more big business to the Tampa Bay region. We are one of the top 13 TV markets in the country with a Fortune 500 list of companies of a city like Omaha.
Get my drift.
Just as this mayoral election in Tampa Tuesday is about developing jobs, you need companies to hire.
I know it’s easier said than done.
Whether it will save a sports franchise or two, I don’t know.
However, it should go a long way in saving the Tampa Bay region.