Tag:Stuart Sternberg
Posted on: October 10, 2011 2:33 pm
Edited on: October 10, 2011 2:35 pm

Rays owner writes email to season-ticket holders

By Matt Snyder

Nearly immediately after the Tampa Bay Rays were eliminated from the ALDS by the Texas Rangers, Rays principle owner Stuart Sternberg made some comments about a likely ominous future for the ballclub as things currently stand. They've made the playoffs three of the past four seasons, yet are still losing money.

Monday, Sternberg sent an email to season-ticket holders to clarify his comments. He didn't apologize or back off the statements. Far from it. Instead, he outlines the challenges ahead while also stating his gratitude to the loyal season-ticket holders.

Here is the letter in full, via TampaBay.com:
Thank you for being such a big part of a wonderfully improbable season!

I know you share my pride in our ballclub's successes over the past six seasons. We are one of three teams to reach the Postseason three out of the past four years. To do it from the AL East, while winning the East twice, makes it all the sweeter.

Rays fans support the team in many ways. Perhaps they attend a few games each year, coordinate a group outing, or watch or listen from a distance. I am grateful for each and every Rays fan.

But it is our season ticket holders who have been and continue to be our foundation. Without your loyal support, we could not begin to do what we do. I can't emphasize enough how much I appreciate the time and hard-earned money you invest in the Rays. You are the ones who support the team through thick and thin. You spread word throughout our community about the great experiences you have at Tropicana Field, as well as your memories and friendships that are connected to Rays baseball.

We all care deeply about the organization. We want it to succeed. We want it to be a fixture in Tampa Bay. We want the seats filled, the atmosphere charged, and the play on the field to be of high quality. Each Spring, we want to look forward to the bright prospects of a new season.

As in the past, I will continue to communicate with you honestly and with candor.

I became the principal owner of the Rays in 2005 because I believed that Major League Baseball could thrive in Tampa Bay. The transformation of the franchise has been breathtaking: a rebranding of the team to become the Rays, significant investments in Tropicana Field, top notch fan experience and customer service, and, of course, development of an acclaimed baseball operations department.

Just as when this organization was "under construction" back in 2005, we continue to face major challenges. At that time, I said that there were no quick, easy fixes. I asked for patience as we built the Rays from a team that had never experienced success into what it is today.

Recently, I have acknowledged that the future of the Rays and Major League Baseball in Tampa Bay is precarious. I have expressed concern about the long-term health and vitality of our franchise. When asked by the press, I did not shy away from answering questions about attendance and our future. For the sake of our franchise, we cannot ignore these questions. Doing so would be a disservice to the organization, its employees and all of its loyal supporters.

Please do not take my remarks as a complaint -- they were not intended to be. I was not pointing fingers. I was not blaming anyone. I do not mean to sound ungrateful to our fans for their support, and I certainly will not tell anyone how to spend his or her money. I was simply being forthright about a reality that must be faced. It would be easy to assure you and all Rays fans that everything will be fine, but that would be disingenuous.

It has been a thrilling past six years for the Rays. We have experienced success on the field that most everyone believed to be impossible. This success has exposed questions from which neither the Rays nor the Tampa Bay region can hide. I assure you that our organization is committed to doing all that we can to find solutions.

I am proud to be the principal owner of the Rays, and I am truly grateful for your support, dedication and passion. Thank you for being a season ticket holder. Your support does not go unnoticed by any of us within the organization.

I look forward to seeing you on Opening Day 2012 for the next edition of our Rays.


Stuart Sternberg
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 4, 2011 10:59 pm
Edited on: October 4, 2011 11:02 pm

Rays owner still frustrated with situation

By Matt Snyder

Along with the NL wild card Cardinals, the Tampa Bay Rays were the Cinderella story of September with a dramatic run netting them the AL wild card. Tuesday, the story ended with an ALDS loss to the Rangers, three games to one. Still, this was a season for the Rays to be proud of, at least on the field. They fought through significant offseason losses and an 0-6 start to make the playoffs.

Off the field is another matter, though. Principle owner Stuart Sternberg once again reminded everyone how dire the Rays' financial situation is after the loss.

"I am frustrated this year," Sternberg said (ESPN.com). "We've replicated last year [on the field] and our attendance numbers were down 15 percent and our ratings were down. The rubber has got to meet the road at some point here. When you go through the season, you control your own destiny, if you win out. We're getting to the point where we don't control our own destiny. This is untenable as a model going forward."

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Sternberg noted that when he took over, he was told that if they won, everything would fall into place. Well, the Rays have been to the playoffs three of the past four seasons, including the World Series once. And the ratings and attendance just aren't getting to a point that the Rays can make money and pump more money into the on-field product.

"I don't have all the answers to it, but we've answered any questions stadium related, market related, economy related, area related, sport related," Sternberg said (ESPN.com). "Whatever you want to say, there are 29 other teams passing us like we're going in reverse right now. Except on the field. And at some point that changes. … To a team, winning solves ills. And we are four years into winning and we're no better off right now."

Now, this is about the time where someone chimes in that the Rays haven't won the World Series. True, but 29 teams fail to win the World Series every single season and the overwhelming majority of those teams make money. Even bad teams make money in some markets. The Rays are one of the most well-run organizations in the majors and they still aren't getting enough revenue.

Even if one of the main problems is Tropicana Field and the location, that doesn't explain their TV ratings issues. While Sternberg didn't explicitly say it, moving to a new city at some point has to be on his mind -- even if it's just in the back of his mind right now.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: June 7, 2011 7:00 pm
Edited on: June 7, 2011 7:42 pm

Rays 'can't sustain' team with present attendance

By Matt Snyder

Despite the recent turn from an embarrassment into one of the most-respected franchises in baseball, the Tampa Bay Rays still have problems drawing attendance. In terms of average fans per home game, the Rays' ranks from 2008 to present are as follows: 26, 23, 22 and 29. That's right, only the Marlins are drawing fewer fans per home game this season.

The drop, about 5,000 fans per game so far, could be explained by myriad factors, including the fact that the Rays had to let several recognizable faces leave via trade or free agency -- including Carl Crawford, who had been the face of the Rays for the better part of the last decade. For whatever the reason, though, attendance is a big problem for the Rays. It always has been, but now it's more dire than before.

"[Attendance] could be better and should be better," Rays owner Stuart Sternberg told Tampa Bay Online. "I know we can't sustain ourselves like this. We had another successful year last season and the economy, while it's not good, has not gotten worse. But our numbers I think will be down, coming off a postseason appearance. It's unheard of."

It might be less surprising if there were no Rays fans or the team was enduring a run of futility like the Pirates or Royals, for example. But with a team that sits within striking distance in the AL East after having won it last season, you start to worry if it's a problem that can't be fixed with the circumstances as they are at present. Perhaps a better stadium with a more convenient location would help. Regardless, Sternberg believes the problem is not one of fan support -- just that fans aren't attending the ballpark.

"People are watching us on TV and listening on the radio," he said. "I walk around and I see all the hats. I want to have a team that's going to be able to compete, but we can't lose money year in and year out, hand over fist. To run a payroll like we do now, basically the second-lowest in baseball, and barely keep our nose above water, we can't sustain that.''

The good news is there's a lot of season left. It's summertime, schools just got out (or are getting out soon) and the Rays are proving they can stick in the race. They have to hope that makes the turnstiles much more active in the coming months.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Category: MLB
Posted on: March 15, 2011 12:09 am

Ear on Baseball podcast, Episode 7

By C. Trent Rosecrans

It's Ear on Baseball time again -- the Eye on Baseball team's podcast is back for Episode 7.

After a brief discussion of Andrew Bailey and Neftali Feliz, Matt Snyder and I talk to Jonah Keri, the author of The Extra 2%: How Wall Street Strategies Took a Major League Baseball Team from Worst to First, a look at the brief, but fascinating history of the Tampa Bay Rays.

Keri tells the tale of an exhibition team started by an owner with contempt for fans and not much interest in building a winner, and then its sale and ultimately the building of a modern franchise.

The title comes from a quote Rays principle owner Stuart Sternberg, when he's talking about how the Rays have to do things smarter and better to get that extra two percent edge, whether it's selling tickets, player signings or how to treat customers.

Under Sternberg, Matthew Silverman and "boy genius" general manager Andrew Friedman, the Devil Rays have gone from laughingstock to the Rays, a model franchise for the 21st century.

We talk to Keri about why the Rays won't move and Sternberg won't own the Mets, as well as Keri's role on a focus panel to build a new stadium for the Expos.

iTunes , Zune or XML.

Ear on Baseball, Volume 7 (50 minutes, 11 seconds)

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

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Posted on: September 21, 2010 9:28 pm

Rays owner says Rays will slash payroll

Carl Crawford A World Series ring would be most welcome to the Rays, but it has no bearing on the payroll situation.

Owner Stuart Sternberg has plans to reduce payroll after the year, saying in spring training it would be south of $60 million. Given the Rays have sluggers Carl Crawford (pictured) and Carlos Pena coming off the books, it represents quite the stark reminder that the Rays just can't sustain high payrolls, even one as "high" as an Opening Day mark of $72.8 million.

"Unfotunately there's nothing that can happen between now and April that can change [a lower payroll]," Sternberg told the St. Petersburg Times . "Unless Joe Maddon hits the lottery and wants to donate it, or I hit the lottery.''

Unlike spring training, Sternberg refused to speculate on how low the payroll can go. "I don't have a plan in mind what the lower [end] is,'' he said. "I just know it's going down.''

He also added that the Rays "can't come close" to turning a profit this season and doesn't believe season ticket sales will rise due to the successful year Tampa Bay has had.

The Rays (and Marlins, if they had effective PR) are perhaps baseball's shining example why, even with revenue sharing, it's next-to-impossible for small-market clubs to have any modicum of success.

Tampa will still have a young club and shouldn't fall off too terribly in competitiveness thanks to top prospect Desmond Jennings in line to replace Crawford and a bevy of top pitching prospects perhaps hinting at acquiring a replacement first baseman. However, the mere fact the Rays have to slash payroll under $60 million with such a promising team in a tough division is evidence enough that the system, if it isn't broken, isn't quite fixed.

 -- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed .
Category: MLB
Posted on: July 6, 2010 7:26 pm

Rays willing to spend at deadline

Stuart Sternberg Forget "small market" blues and even attendance woes, the Tampa Bay Rays will spend what they need to make the playoffs, owner Stuart Sternberg told the Tampa Tribune 's Roger Mooney .

"We're well beyond stretched. This for me, personally, is a very special year," Sternberg said. "It's a special team, can be a special team, and we're going to do whatever we can and whatever is necessary to try to give us the best opportunity to win this year."

Sternberg said the Rays could add as much as $20 or $25 million. He said money is an "impediment" but if the team goes to the playoffs, it'll be worth it.

When asked about re-signing outfielder Carl Crawford, Sternberg said, "Remains to be seen."

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Category: MLB
Posted on: June 25, 2010 2:06 am
Edited on: June 25, 2010 9:15 am

St. Pete mayor tells Rays they must stay in city

St. Petersburg mayor Bill Foster told the Rays they are welcome to amend their contract with the city and explore a new park, but it must be within city limits, according to a document acquired by the Tampa Tribune .

The Rays' lease of Tropicana Field runs through 2027, but owner Stuart Sternberg held a press conference Monday to say the team was looking for stadium sites throughout the Tampa Bay region.

Foster, however, sent a memorandum to the city council, Pinellas County Commission and Sternberg.

"One thing you and I can never ignore is the previous investment and commitment made by your residents and the commitment made by Pinellas County," Foster said at city council committee meeting. "It was not the region's effort."

City attorney John Wolfe told the paper that the team is trying to pit St. Petersburg against Tampa for the Rays.

Foster wrote that the city is "ready, willing and able to explore future facility sites located in St. Petersburg."

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Category: MLB
Posted on: June 21, 2010 2:20 pm
Edited on: June 21, 2010 2:44 pm

Rays owner says team must search for new park

Stuart Sternberg Stuart Sternberg held a news conference Monday to announce that it's time for the Rays to explore ballpark options in the regional area of Tampa Bay, not just in St. Petersburg and Tampa.

The Rays currently play at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg under a lease that runs through 2027.

"Our ability to compete and, quite frankly, to survive rests on our ability to attract people and businesses to our ballpark," Sternberg said according to the Tampa Tribune . "Our customers are our fans. And like any other business, we need to be in a location that is convenient for our fans to reach us."

St. Petersburg mayer Bill Foster reacted to Sternberg's announcement by saying, "Like it or not, we are married and joined at the hip until 2027," the Tribune reports.

Despite recent efforts to spruce up the park and a winning baseball team, attendance remains among the lowest in baseball. Sternberg feels if the Rays hope to remain a viable franchise, either attendance must spike or a new park must be built.

"When I assumed control of the Rays almost five years ago, it was commonly assumed that winning would change everything at Tropicana Field," Sternberg added via MLB.com. "Everyone believed that with a winning team on the field, fans would fill the stands. That has not been the case."

Sternberg spoke about needing everyone to work together to begin a regional search for a park and, rising "above municipal interests," he noted. In March, an independent committe named the ABC Coalition recommended two sites in Tampa -- downtown and West Shore -- and one in the Pinellas county. Sternberg said that the team's own findings jived with the committee's recommendations, which also did not recommend downtown St. Petersburg and fairgrounds east of Tampa.

His comments directly violate the lease with St. Petersburg, as the contract stipulates the team may not directly or indirectly initiate or negotiate agreements for a new home.

"I expect a strong comment from the legal team of St. Petersburg," commented Alan Bomstein of the ABC Coalition.

Negotiations between St. Petersburg and the Rays collasped earlier in the year about a waterfront stadium being built in the city.

Geoffrey Rapp, a sports law expert at the University of Toledo, also weighed in, saying that cities and states outside of Florida may enter the scrum.

"There are a lot of cities that certainly think they can support a major-league team," Rapp said. "Now, knowing one is willing to move could be shark bait in the water for people to put together packages to attract that team."

There has been no indication so far that Sternberg is considering completely vacating the Tampa area.

Without discussion of a new park in the region, "the air of uncertainty over the future of Major League Baseball in the area will continue to linger," Sternberg said.

The Rays are currently 42-27, one game out of first place in the AL East behind the Yankees.

-- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Category: MLB
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