Selig reportedly tells Rays: No “investments” in St. Pete

ESPN’s Howard Bryant reports, somewhat confusingly:

According to sources, baseball commissioner Bud Selig has instructed Rays management not to make significant financial investments in the area until attendance indicators improve, suggesting the team could be investing in potential relocation sites.

So what are “significant financial investments in the area,” exactly? It’s not like the Rays are planning on building a new stadium on their own anytime soon, or a hotel shaped like a devil ray or anything else. Does Selig mean they shouldn’t do any upgrades of Tropicana Field? And why on earth would “attendance indicators” (is this different from “attendance”?) improve at a stadium that the team isn’t maintaining and is disparaging as obsolete, in a city that the commissioner of baseball is suggesting they should leave?

Noah Pransky speculates that this might be why the Rays aren’t spending much on billboard ads, which is as good a theory as any. But it still seems like cutting off your nose to spite your face — even when you have a pennant-winning team, you still have to spend money to make money.

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7 comments on “Selig reportedly tells Rays: No “investments” in St. Pete

  1. Two examples of letting ballparks decline. Selig’s own Brewers let County Stadium crumble. To allow a stadium that was no where as old as Fenway, Wrigley, or Tiger Stadium, to fall a part was part of the Brewers plan to force a new stadium. On the other hand Comiskey Park in its later years was beyond saving. While the Sox should have ponied up the money the south side was in need a new place to play

  2. As someone who attended games at both Comiskey Park and County Stadium in their final seasons, I’d dispute that either were beyond saving. Two of my all-time favorite ballparks — Comiskey had seats dazzlingly close to the field, while County Stadium reminded me a lot of Wrigley, with less ivy.

  3. While there does come a time that any building is “not cost effective to repair”, the truth is that an outdoor sports facility has to be in truly awful condition to reach that level (think massive structural failure imminent). Even significant infrastructure (service mains and the like) can be either replaced or augmented by additional services. Crumbling concrete? Overflowing toilets? Narrow seats? Concourse painted the wrong colour? All can be fixed at very reasonable cost.

    If we really want to know what a new stadium ought to cost, look at the ones that are built solely with private money. It turns out a new baseball or football stadium doesn’t actually “have” to cost $800m after all.

    Realistically, any owner of a major market profitable sports franchise could (if he did not have the freely available alternative of receiving public largesse) sell club seat licenses for $10k a pop and raise $80-100M. If costs are kept under control and lavish extravagances avoided, a 35-40k stadium can be built for under $200m (probably well under that: $160-$175m is not out of the question). Even in these days of responsible lending, $80m will get you a mortgage for the rest.

    But hey, as long as the general public can be successfully extorted, why bother with something complex like a business plan?

    Honest Bud’s used car sales is back in business vis the Rays, I see. This is a familiar argument to those of us who’ve watched other baseball (or football) teams move. The Commish does a pretty good “Cleavon Little” impression, doesn’t he?

  4. Pretty funny how at one time, the White Sox, Rangers, Mariners, Giants, and Brewers were considering moving to the Tampa Bay area because those teams weren’t considered to be in “good baseball towns.” Suddenly, the cities used taxpayer money to build new stadiums for those teams and now they are “baseball towns.” Ironically, until the Tampa area builds a “new” stadium for the Ray’s, we aren’t considered a “baseball town.” Once that stadium is built though, we’ll be a “baseball town,” once more.

  5. To be fair, the Giants used no direct and minimal ancillary city money with theirs, but point well taken.

  6. Remember this — the primary function of a sports commissioner today is to coax, threaten and cajole citizen/suckers into paying for new stadiums and arenas.

    Selig should be asked this question whenever the subject is raised: Are you in favor of laying off more teachers and policemen so the team can have a new stadium?

  7. The Rays badly need a new stadium. It can’t wait otherwise after losing good players to free agency, they will lose more. It seems sad that a Major League baseball team cannot get the supports it needs to build a new stadium. Maybe if Major League Baseball got behind the idea, with the Rays support, a new stadium may and could be built.

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