Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Romano: Time for straight talk when the Tampa Bay Rays meet with Pinellas County today

In a perfect world, they would speak freely.

Tampa Bay Rays executives would appear before Pinellas County commissioners today and explain in stark terms why location is a problem with Tropicana Field.

This would not be the theoretical work of research firms and 30-minute driving patterns, it would be the hard numbers of a business lacking desired revenues.

It would be the exact number of season ticket holders within the city limits of St. Petersburg. It would be the comparison of sales in Pinellas and Hillsborough. It would be the breakdown of tickets sold to corporations and individuals.

In a perfect world, they would ask blunt questions.

Commissioners would inquire about the team's finances. Not just vague assertions that the current numbers are unsustainable, but the details of a business in peril.

The Rays do not have to open their books on the steps of the county courthouse, but they have to acknowledge that asking for a $300 million or $400 million or $500 million commitment requires some reciprocal show of trust.

And don't let them say Major League Baseball forbids it. The Houston Astros underwent a certified audit in 1996 to prove they were losing money prior to a stadium vote.

In a perfect world, their message would be heard.

Rays executives would not get silly questions about their number of billboards, or the price of a beer or any other knee-jerk complaints that have little to do with the real issue.

A week ago, while meeting with Hillsborough officials, the Rays explained their concerns as succinctly as possible.

In 2008, the Texas Rangers were 25th in attendance and the Rays were 26th. During the next five seasons, the Rangers made three playoff appearances and averaged 89 wins a season. The Rays also made three playoff appearances and averaged 92 wins a season.

For the Rangers, on-field success was a revenue boon. Texas was third in attendance in 2012. For the Rays, the opposite was true. They fell to 30th in attendance.

In a perfect world, they would challenge the timing.

Commissioners would point out the Rays were talking about a new stadium less than halfway through their lease and less than two years after new ownership took over.

Major League Baseball has seen an explosion of new stadiums in the last two decades, but construction usually comes at the end of a lease. The Marlins, Twins, Padres, Brewers, Pirates, Astros and Giants were all theoretically closer to relocation.

If the Rays want to jump the gun on a new stadium, they're going to have to be a little more forthright about what they're willing to offer in exchange.

In a perfect world, someone would take charge.

If not a mayor, then a commissioner. If not a commissioner, then a business person.

But someone has to get in front of this story, lest it become a much larger version of a grocery store that closes its doors because the numbers didn't add up.

The map is littered with cities that lost baseball (Washington, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Seattle) or football (Houston, Cleveland, Baltimore, Oakland, St. Louis) and spent years and dollars chasing a replacement team.

In a perfect world, that wouldn't happen here.

Romano: Time for straight talk when the Tampa Bay Rays meet with Pinellas County today 01/28/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 7:59am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. What to watch this weekend: 'GLOW,' second season of 'Preacher'


    Ready to rumble: GLOW

    Four words: Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. Yes, the fluorescent, body-slamming soap opera GLOW starring a cast of exaggerated characters is back, this time as a fictionalized Netflix series. Alison Brie (Community, Mad Men) stars as Ruth, a down-on-her-luck actor …

    Alison Brie, left, and Betty Gilpin in GLOW on Netflix.
  2. Exploratory Lab Boot Camp provides real-life technology training to students


    CLEARWATER — At this graduation ceremony featuring some of the brightest local minds in tech, it was the youngsters who stood out.

    Laszo Leedy, 17, a senior at Shorecrest Prep, presents part of his team's project for SPC's Exploratory Lab Boot Camp. Students presented their ideas at the end of the SPC Exploratory Lab Boot Camp. The program provides real-time business training to students. This year's graduation celebrated 15 students that finished the program. 
[JIM DAMASKE   |   Times]
  3. Editorial: Trump, not military, should set troop levels in Afghanistan


    There is no task more solemn for any American president than the decision to send troops off to war. In delegating authority over troops levels in Afghanistan to the Pentagon, President Donald Trump has shirked his obligation to own and defend his Afghan policy, while further divorcing America's military strategy there …

  4. North Korea says it's 'biggest victim' in U.S. student's death (w/video)


    SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea on Friday called itself the "biggest victim" in the death of an American student who was detained for more than a year and died days after being released in a coma.

    Mourners line the street after the funeral of Otto Warmbier, Thursday, June 22, 2017, in Wyoming, Ohio. Warmbier, a 22-year-old University of Virginia undergraduate student who was sentenced in March 2016 to 15 years in prison with hard labor in North Korea, died this week, days after returning to the United States. [Associated Press]
  5. Kentucky recruit, former Tampa Catholic star Kevin Knox among top prospects for 2018 NBA Draft


    Less than 24 hours after the NBA Draft, analysts have already begun looking ahead to 2018.

    Tampa Catholic star Kevin Knox finishes a layup during the McDonald's All-American game in March at the United Center in Chicago. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]