Advertisement
  1. News

Now batting in Rays stadium debate: Tampa's CEOs

LUIS SANTANA | Times Aerial of the Tampa Park Apartments which is in proximity to the proposed baseball stadium across the street in Ybor and may spell the end of the run down housing complex. A major sports franchise is likely to transform land values in the area around the site forcing residents to move. [Thursday October 26, 2017] [Photo Luis Santana | Times]
Published Jan. 30, 2018

Pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 13.

Hopefully, treasurers and CEOs show up then, too.

This is how it goes around here. Baseball fans must keep one eye on the field for spring training, and the other on the financial pages for stadium-related updates.

The latest news, as reported by the Tampa Bay Business Journal, is that the Rays will soon announce that the Ybor City proposal is their top site for a location.

If you've been paying attention, that's no shocker. Getting closer to the bay area's business center has long been viewed as the antidote for the team's lackluster attendance.

What's far less certain is who pays for what.

And that, presumably, will be part of the team's announcement.

Now, don't get the wrong idea. The Rays are not ready to commit to a specific dollar figure. Neither is Tampa nor Hillsborough County. But there is another partner in this journey. Until now, a mostly silent partner.

If a stadium is to be built in Ybor City, it is going to require a much greater commitment from the business community than what we've previously seen.

That means major corporations buying sponsorships and suites. That means smaller businesses buying season tickets. That means providing the Rays with a more dependable revenue stream.

Rays fans have taken a beating nationally for not supporting a franchise that has a better record than 23 other teams in the last decade but has, at the same time, had the lowest attendance in the big leagues.

The truth is, that disparity has had more to do with the business community than everyday fans.

Many teams sell the majority of their tickets before the season's first pitch is even thrown because businesses buy season ticket packages to entertain clients or to hand out to employees.

That hasn't been the case in Tampa Bay.

As a tourism-driven economy, we don't have a lot of corporations. And certainly not a lot surrounding Tropicana Field. And so tickets have been sold, essentially, one at a time to you and your neighbors.

That's why, when the Rays make their upcoming announcement, it had better include economic commitments from businesses in Hillsborough County.

Rays owner Stu Sternberg caused a stir when he suggested to Tampa Bay Times baseball writer Marc Topkin that the team's portion of an $800 million stadium could be as low as $150 million.

Political leaders correctly shot that down as being too low. But the question of how much higher that figure goes will depend largely on pledges from the business community.

If the Rays can count on revenues being $50 million higher in Ybor City than they are at Tropicana Field, then they should be expected to invest more in the building of a stadium. If the revenues are only $15 million higher, then the amount they are willing to invest will clearly be less.

The other tricky part of the announcement will be St. Petersburg's role.

The Rays have an 11-month window to strike a deal with businesses and governments in Hillsborough. If they can't pull that off, they are potentially looking at another decade at Tropicana Field.

That means they need to commit to Ybor City, while not shutting the door on St. Pete.

Two weeks until pitchers and CEOs report.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Miami-Dade school superintendent Alberto Carvalho offered condolences to the teen's family in a tweet posted on Sunday, and asked that anyone with information about Saturday night's shooting contact investigators. Miami-Dade Police Department/ Facebook
    Neighbors told detectives that teens dove to the ground when the gunshots rang out.
  2. A Bird electric scooter is seen along the Tampa Riverwalk in May in Tampa. The New Port Richey City Council is considering allowing scooter sales and rentals. CHRIS URSO  |  Tampa Bay Times
    City staff members recommend a vote for scooter sales, but against scooter rentals.
  3. Investigators counted 95 mice, 60 rats, 23 baby rats, 14 birds, 12 rabbits, 10 flying opossums, nine guinea pigs, seven bearded dragons, four dogs, four hamsters, two cats, two geckos, a tortoise, and a hedgehog. Another guinea pig was dead. City Of Edgewater Police Department/Facebook
    Officers said the children, ages 8, 9, and 10, were living with three adults amid rotting food, animal feces, and urine.
  4. Pasco County community news TMCCARTY80  |  Tara McCarty
    Pasco County letters to the editor
  5. Bay area gas prices increased by double digits since last week, according to AAA, The Auto Club Group. Pictured is a man in St. Petersburg filling up in 2017. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times (2017)] SHADD, DIRK  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Oil refineries’ seasonal maintenance, as well as wholesale gas prices, pushed prices higher.
  6. Pasco School District headquarters in Land O' Lakes
    Steve Hegarty spent 10 years as Hillsborough schools public information officer before taking the police department post.
  7. Former Morgan Stanley investment broker Ami Forte has been permanently barred from working in the broker-dealer industry as a result of thousands of improper trades that were made in the accounts of Home Shopping Network co-founder Roy Speer during the last months of his life. (AP photo | 2016) TAMARA LUSH  |  Associated Press
    Financial regulators barred brokers Ami Forte and Charles Lawrence as a result of more than 2,800 trades on Roy Speer’s accounts in 2011 and 2011.
  8. FILE - In this Friday, Oct. 4, 2019 file photo, Defense Secretary Mark Esper speaks to a gathering of soldiers at the University Club at the University of Louisville in Louisville, Ky. Esper says during a weekend trip to the Middle East that under the current plan all U.S. troops leaving Syria will go to western Iraq, and that the military will continue to conduct operations against the Islamic State group to prevent a resurgence in that country. As Esper left Washington on Saturday, Oct. 19, U.S. troops were continuing to pull out of northern Syria after Turkey's invasion into the border region. TIMOTHY D. EASLEY  |  AP
    Esper emphasized that the proposal to leave a small number of troops in eastern Syria was intended to give the president “maneuver room” and wasn’t final.
  9. A conveyor belt takes bags of food from ghost restaurants to a room where delivery drivers pick up orders at Kitchen United's Chicago location on Aug. 29, 2019. Kitchen United, a start-up that builds kitchen commissaries for restaurants looking to enter new markets through delivery or take-out only, has plans to open 40 more kitchens in cities across the U.S. through 2020. (AP Photo/Teresa Crawford) TERESA CRAWFORD  |  AP
    Owner Michael Kudrna launched the four spinoffs earlier this year in a matter of weeks as he races to keep his Chicago-area business ahead of a growing trend.
  10. FILE - In this Thursday, April 18, 2019, file photo, a sign for the Department of Justice hangs in the press briefing room at the Justice Department, in Washington. PATRICK SEMANSKY  |  AP
    The official said the rules would not apply to legal permanent residents or anyone entering the U.S. legally, and children under 14 are exempt.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement