Sternberg: I believe in Tampa Bay, but my partner Bud, he don’t believe you

Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg gave his long-awaited testimony before the Hillsborough County Commission on Thursday, and while sadly nobody filed any lawsuits over it, there was still plenty of drama: Sternberg came out in full stop-Bud-Selig-before-he-shoots-this-team mode, declaring that “Major League Baseball doesn’t believe anymore in the Tampa Bay area” while intimating that MLB might change its mind if somebody coughed up a new stadium.

Selig, meanwhile, played bad cop via press release, releasing a statement that read:

“The status quo is simply not sustainable,” the release stated. “The Rays have been a model organization, averaging nearly 92 wins per year since 2008 and participating in the postseason three times, including their inaugural World Series in 2008. Their .565 winning percentage over the last five years is second among all American League clubs and third in all of Major League Baseball.

“Last year, the 30 major league clubs averaged nearly 2.5 million in total attendance; the Rays, who finished with a 90-72 record, drew 1,559,681, which ranked last in the game.

“We are hopeful that the market will respond in kind to a club that has done a marvelous job on and off the field.”

As Tampa Tribune columnist Joe Henderson points out, that’s actually extremely sustainable — the Rays have managed to field a winning team year after year despite low attendance and revenues — but the other MLB teams would be a lot happier if the Rays were bringing in more money instead of using revenue-sharing funds to boost their player payroll, like they’re, um, actually required to be. But anyway, this is more about Sternberg creating a bogeyman that will threaten to evaporate (or “consolidate,” as Sternberg put it) the team if he doesn’t get a new stadium, so he can get all the benefits of a move threat without having to be all, you know, threatening. Back to Henderson:

I asked Sternberg: If MLB no longer believes in the market, doesn’t that make any stadium talk academic?

Well, let’s not get carried away.

“I said to them, ‘Look, let’s see if we can get the market to work. I believe in the market,’ ” Sternberg said.

It’s just that mean ol’ Bud Selig who doesn’t believe. Help Stuart Sternberg teach Selig how to believe, people of Tampa Bay! Clap your hands if you believe! But put your wallets in your hands first! No, open, so that the money flies out! Faster! Faster!

5 comments on “Sternberg: I believe in Tampa Bay, but my partner Bud, he don’t believe you

  1. Hehe,

    Wow is that some transparent gifting going on. These con artist sure know how to put the screws to the local politicians. I love the idea that it is somehow the people of Tampa or the County who are responsible for making baseball work in Tampa. Selig and Sternberg talk about it as though it is some vital public utility, as opposed to some frivolous child’s game that is one of a thousand sources of entertainment.

    Certainly I think Sternberg and the MLB should be concerned about the long term financial viability of keeping a team in Tampa, but I don’t see what that has to do with local tax payers other than the fact that they have easily manipulated and stupid representatives.

  2. Thank you, Neil. Articles like this are why I have been an avid Field of Schemes reader for years. Outstanding work.

  3. I’m glad that all my quality time as a youth watching “Police Squad!” has finally paid off.

  4. I think I have a way for MLB to avoid hiring a new commissioner when, if, Bud Selig ever steps down.
    All the organization has to do is print a fill in the blank sheet and send it to clubs looking for a new stadium, tax breaks, what have you. Something like

    The __________ are a fine ball club that does much for the __________area. It is an organization that is well run despite only drawing ________fans, well below the average for clubs their size. We won’t talk about relocation but the citizens of ___________ have moved forward in their funding for a new stadium. I would urge all to think about the amount of revenue the ______ bring in to _____ city and the surrounding areas. Remember we are not asking for the community to fund the new stadium. It would be a partnership between the municipalities and current ownership. Why just look at Cincinnati and Hamilton County to see how well this partnership works.
    I admit the last line is wishful thinking on my part.

  5. Time to make Sternberg and “Boogie Man” Bud sweat, barely 2 years after buying their pig-in-a-poke they’re puttin’ on the ol’ misdirection squeeze play. Surprised?There’s nowhere for the Rayz to go to that would be a guaranteed revenue generator above and beyond what they have now.
    “…let’s see if we can get the market to work. I believe in the market” – the dead giveaway that the Rayz sre stuck where they are.