What exactly would a new stadium do for the Rays?

I missed it at the time, but on Tuesday, Shadow of the Stadium‘s Noah Pransky did an excellent job of crunching the numbers on just how many extra fans the Tampa Bay Rays could possibly expect to draw in a new stadium. The short version:

  • Averaging 30,000 fans a game would bump the Rays up to the MLB midpoint, and would mean an extra 870,000 fans a year. But since that would be more than playoff teams like the Cincinnati Reds and Baltimore Orioles, plus more than the Miami Marlins drew in the first year of their new stadium this year, that’s probably a reach.
  • A more reasonable goal might be 23,000 a game, which would at least bump them up to 25th in the league, and probably closer to where the Marlins will end up in future seasons. But, Pransky asks, “Is it worth $500-600 million [in stadium construction costs] for 303,000 fans a year? If the ticket average is $25, that’s $7.5 million a year for the Rays.  Add parking and concessions and maybe it’s $15 million a year for the Rays. Might just be cheaper for Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties to hand the team an annual tax credit.”

Of course, given that the Rays are turning an average profit of $20 million a year according to Forbes’ estimates, it’s worth questioning whether the team really can be said to need another $15 million a year, whether from a new stadium or tax credits or suitcases full of unmarked bills. Maybe Tampa area taxpayers should take up a collection to buy the Rays a centerfielder instead.

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2 comments on “What exactly would a new stadium do for the Rays?

  1. I suppose the Rays argument would be that they not only would get “more” fans, the fans would each spend more than they do at the Trop too.

    Not sure I buy that.

    The net effect on the Rays shown in the article is not that different from many other new facility plays. I believe Forbes said the new Edmonton arena (ahem) should bring in about $20m a year more for the club. And it’s now supposed to cost $700m, including land, servicing and borrowing costs.

    That would take Katz profit from about $12m a year to $30m or so… and an $18-20m increase in revenues could support spending of around $275m, by my rough calculations.

    Suddenly I’m thinking of “poor old Bob Nutting” in Pittsburgh, who for years could never afford real pitchers or the contracts his high draft picks demanded, even with a beautiful new ballpark (and 11,000 paying customers).
    Funny thing is, he was making more money by pocketing his MLB welfare checks than most of the owners who were paying into the revenue sharing program.

    It’s a strange business, sometimes…

  2. Exactly. The whole argument is removed from reality. A newer, bigger stadium is only going to pad the pockets of the owners. Who, unless they want to open their books for public scrutiny, don’t seem to be hurting financially.

    Just look at all the legions of fans flocking to the new Marlins stadium…or all the sellout games the Bucs are playing.

    The only way to gain a fan-base is to win games and promote yourselves to the fans. Instead, the Rays insult them, steal from them and disown their stadium. It’s no wonder everyone hates their games. And for every fan won over by a new stadium, there will be 5 who will never want anything to do with the Rays in their new publicly-fleeced home.

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