Crazy busy day for me today, so let’s get right to it: Bud Selig yesterday threw the entire weight of his ominous presence behind the Tampa Bay Rays stadium push, telling reporters that Rays owner Stuart Sternberg had given him a “very discouraging” update on talks with St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster on getting out of his Tropicana Field lease, and that he was considering sending someone from his office in to intervene:
“We were optimistic that this was moving in a very positive direction,” Selig said. “Unfortunately, we are stalled. It’s serious enough that in the last 48 hours I’ve given very strong consideration to assigning someone from MLB to get involved in the process and find out what is going on.”
Oooh, scary! Shadow of the Stadium has a good rundown of all the times Selig has expressed “concern” about the Rays before, and one Oakland A’s fan notes that Selig’s intervention hasn’t really moved things along for her team’s stadium issues. And it’s hard to see how an MLB representative is going to significantly affect talks between Sternberg and St. Pete Mayor Bill Foster, who 1) said yesterday that talks are proceeding and “this is not news,” and 2) has 14 more years of lease in his pocket and knows damn well that he doesn’t have to give that up unless he’s happy with what he’s being offered.
What Selig’s statement does do is what league commissioners always hope they’ll do: spark panic among the sports media and local elected officials. Already, Hillsborough County Commission chair Ken Hagan, who’s been leading the drive to build the team a new stadium in Tampa, yesterday declared the “sense of urgency” to be “borderline dire.” To which Shadow of the Stadium replies:
Things can’t be too dire: the Rays have a secure home for 14 more years if nothing else happens. The team consistantly pulls in some of the top profits in baseball, the franchise’s value has more than tripled under Sternberg, and MLB’s national television revenue is exploding. Relocation is not possible anytime soon, and contraction will never be an option.
Details, details. Hey, everybody, let’s write an editorial talking about the threat of the Rays being moved or contracted out of existence, even though Selig didn’t threaten either of those things!