Blog Entry

St. Petersburg mayor won't let Rays move

Posted on: April 2, 2011 1:07 am
Edited on: April 2, 2011 1:10 am

Tropicana Field

By Evan Brunell

Wow, St. Petersburg mayor Bill Foster certainly isn't pulling any punches. He has no interest in letting the Rays out of the lease at Tropicana Field anytime soon, unless its to build another stadium in St. Petersburg. And not only that, he's prepared to fight for that.

"The city is prepared for interference from Major League Baseball and all of the [commissioner Bud] Selig tricks that have been used successfully elsewhere," Foster told the Tampa Tribune. "We studied it, we know it, and we're prepared."

The Rays are beholden to the stadium until 2027 at the earliest, but Rays owner Stu Sternberg says it's time for a move and wants other locations in the Tampa Bay area considered while Foster won't expand the search past St. Petersburg and adjoining areas of the county.

While Sternberg believes it is "imperative" for stadium talks to get moving and doesn't believe low attendance can be reversed, Foster feels the opposite.

"I take responsibility for easy ingress and egress to the facility and [fans'] experience until they get to the border," Foster said. "[The Rays] have to take over. They have to do their part to make sure there's an entire fan experience. I think they're doing it. Maybe they have to reassess some of how they do that."

However, the Rays have been consistent winners the last three years, reaching the World Series in 2008. Despite that and a low pricing structure, the Rays struggle to draw fans.

Now here's where things turn strange. Foster actually likes Tropicana Field, even though it's the last remaining vestige of the worst thing to invade baseball: domed stadiums. (Baseball is meant to be watched outside in the summer, and a retractable roof is a great compromised. But domed?)

"I love it," he said. "I mean, look at the field (new AstroTurf was installed this offseason). Aside from a couple of quirky ground rules -- you know, I call the (catwalk) rings Wrigley's Ivy -- it's an absolute beautiful facility, to me, in Florida to play baseball."

Right. Something tells me the Rays aren't going anywhere any time soon.

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Category: MLB

Since: Jul 3, 2010
Posted on: April 2, 2011 8:07 pm

St. Petersburg mayor won't let Rays move

Yes, keep the team in Tampa, that is cool.  They should build a stadium near the attractions like the zoo, the university, the IMAX Dome and Busch Gardens - for that location would be much better.  When I go to St Pete - I do not go to the IMAX for it is 1/2 hour or more to get there and so I miss out on the 100 foot screen.  But, please do not move the team from it's general location - Tampa is nice, St Pete is nice....I like both better than Orlando.  If it is a retractable roof that is good for me, for I take pictures about 1300 a game so the natural light would be much better for photography.  I love the RAYS and the fans are nice people, great people.  I am in love with Longoria....that dude rocks!!!! 

Since: Apr 2, 2011
Posted on: April 2, 2011 5:49 pm

St. Petersburg mayor won't let Rays move

No no no!  There are more people in Tampa Bay than in Orlando.  Do you really think folks from Tampa Bay are going to drive from Orlando to go to a game there?  It's the same problem in reverse, but with less folks arriving.

And when you start talking about parking, that proves "Discount Town."  Everywhere else in MLB, folks pay $10-$15 for parking and just accept it's part of the cost of doing business.

And tourists aren't there in the spring/summer months.  They really aren't really relevant to the conversation, only to say that for Tampa Bay's purposes one might wish that baseball was a winter sport instead of a summer one.

And if Jacksonville/North Florida can't/won't support 8-10 NFL games, why would we include them in this conversation?  Believe me, the Cubs don't think much about Central Illinois or Iowa when they do their planning.  You get the bulk of your attendance from a 35-mile radius ... not hundreds of miles.

I'm still AMAZED that folks think downtown Tampa is a panacea.  It's a mindset that's nothing more than an illusion.  Again, it is NOT Manhattan.  And while there is more of a corporate presence there than in St. Pete, it is hardly the center of everything.

If folks from Tampa can't concede that a stadium just on the opposite side of the bay would be acceptable to them, then they truly are the problem.  I can't believe they'd be that self-absorbed, though I don't know for sure.

Nothing has ever worked in Tampa Bay without everyone working together ... which is a big part of why things often plod along instead of working really well.

I agree about the bathrooms.

Since: Jul 3, 2010
Posted on: April 2, 2011 4:13 pm

St. Petersburg mayor won't let Rays move

Like most things in life....there has to be compromise, so with that said - let's look at the basics of the issue.

Tropicana a nice place for baseball in gets hot baseball inside.  I am from Jacksonville and go down to St Pete for the Yankees and Red Sox games.  Alot of the season ticket holders likely want to have an indoor expreisnce.  It gets hot and humid outside.

It is a baseball is played on a field and they have a field to play on.

It all gets down to fan support.  The Trop is okay...the restrooms suck.....they need to be renovated....made larger.  When I did use the restroom and I have only one time - it was really a health violation - to be honest...people can be fairly nasty when they want to be.

The people have baseball in Tampa and they need to attend the games.  Sure it would nice if there was an indoor stadium in Tampa for the majority of the population - so with that said.....the rich need to step up to the plate.  Somebody has the money, now it is not me - but if it was me....BUILD IT AND THEY WILL COME.

If not - move the team to Orlando - more centrally know that whole nine an indoor stadium (it ensures that weather will not interfere)....make it will sell and match the season ticket sales you already have in St Petersberg.  The tourists who come to Disney World will go see The RAYS!!!  More people from northern FL will come see games and likely more people from southern FL will come.

The mayor....this is really not for you to place to hold your hand out and wait for a big glob of money to be placed in it for if you really love something - you have to be willing to let it go.  Please stay out of the - what is in it for me business.

Can the legislatures in Orlando build a multi-functional indoor facility that houses the Rays and concerts - to make things nice for Floridians that enjoy baseball?

If you want to keep the team at The Trop....lower parking costs, renovate the restrooms, get more creative on having giveaways and that means getting the business community involved - more of it, get some cheerleaders that wear NFL type costumes....get creative, break new boundaries.....instead of having the truck drive around and shoot-off 25 t-shirts....try doing 100 or have to do more.  Think outside the box and people will be drawn in.....let the fans inside earlier so they can see the home team have batting practice too (this is such an obvious one...cmon let the fans have what they pay experience!)  Have a drawing for a prize by selecting seat numbers during the have to get start thinking like a minor league affiliate.....

There is nothing wrong with The have to entice the fans to come this is baseball.

Since: Apr 2, 2011
Posted on: April 2, 2011 3:21 pm

St. Petersburg mayor won't let Rays move

Manboobs its not that its a bad state, but many of the people in florida arent from there, therefore they are fans of other teams..either that or they are bandwagon fans and just go to games when the team is playing well.

Since: Apr 2, 2011
Posted on: April 2, 2011 3:18 pm

St. Petersburg mayor won't let Rays move

A move out of st pete to tampa will really benefit both the rays and the the tampa area economy..We have a great team, there is no reason we shouldnt have one of the best attendance records either. The location now is awful. Living in tampa, it is much easier to watch the game at home then drive an hour to watch them. Plus its a lot cheaper. The stadium does not condone a baseball atmosphere either. I really wish they would just move to downtown tampa. St pete cant support a baseball team

Since: Feb 29, 2008
Posted on: April 2, 2011 2:29 pm

St. Petersburg mayor won't let Rays move

The stadium is garbage. Whoever signed on til 2027 needs their head read, wow!

Since: Jun 3, 2010
Posted on: April 2, 2011 2:21 pm

St. Petersburg mayor won't let Rays move

Don Rey -- this doesn't make much sense. The Marlins were cutting Kevin Millar, and the Red Sox claimed him on waivers. No other player on the 2004 team came from the Marlins.

Since: Apr 2, 2011
Posted on: April 2, 2011 12:48 pm

St. Petersburg mayor won't let Rays move

Folks - This really isn't a difficult issue to understand.  First of all, the mayor has to be out of his mind.  So he thinks the stadium is at standard because it's quirky?  Wrong answer.  The fact is: from the very beginning, St. Petersburg should have built this stadium on Tampa Bay where the folks from Tampa (who have the illusion that they are Manhattan south, for some reason) might actually drive over a bridge.  But they didn't because they wanted downtown redeveloped.  Well, guess what?  Their downtown is awesome now and much nicer than Tampa.  Mission accomplished.  Now it's time to move forward with a new stadium.  Don't think for a moment that this guy can beat Selig?  He will retract the team he has to.  The untold secret is that they won the mediation hearing on this several years ago, which is why the players are so much more agreeable to the owners than they used to be.  Do you really think for a moment that everyone suddenly just decided to become nice guys because "1994 almost killed baseball?'  That might have been a tiny part of it, but it's 17 years later.  With all the money on this sport, the impact of that has been over for a long, long time.  Last thing: St. Petersburg, Orlando, Jacksonville, Florida in general.  All Discount Towns.  A discount state that has counted on tourists to foot the bill for most things since the beginning of time.  Well, that will only get you so far.  It won't keep baseball.  It's only a mega-state in Charlie Crist's mind.  Time for the state to show some Big League thinking!

Since: Aug 18, 2006
Posted on: April 2, 2011 12:36 pm

St. Petersburg mayor won't let Rays move

They work quite well actually. The Marlins have won 2 championships and are the main reason why the Red Sox broke their curse, because we traded our leftovers to them so they can beat the Yankees. If the Marlins did not exist, the Red Sox will still be talking about the curse.

Since: Dec 14, 2006
Posted on: April 2, 2011 11:53 am

St. Petersburg mayor won't let Rays move

"Pro sports don't work in Florida...."  What?  Coming from a guy with a name like yours...tells me everything I need to know about your rantings.  ManBoobs...yer an idiot. 

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