Sternberg: I’ll pick stadium site as soon as cities decide how much money to offer me

Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg says he’s all set to pick a new stadium site by the end of the year, as soon as he finds out what cities are willing to offer him to pick them:

The team is waiting for Hillsborough County officials “to completely weigh in” with a site and specifics of the project.

“When they do then we’ll be able to make a decision in a pretty quick time,” he said.

That makes it sound as if they already know what their Pinellas options are, but he said not quite.

“We have sites in mind, and it’s a question of what will get done around the site and how are they going to get paid for,” he said. “And once municipalities are able to line those things up, not completely buttoned up but at least to a good extent, then we’ll be able to make a decision.”

On the one hand, this is reasonable: You don’t want to pick a site if you don’t know, say, whether there will be enough highway access provided that fans can actually get to the game. On the other: Normal businesses of human scale that don’t have the entire back section of the paper dedicated to them usually figure out how to pay for stuff to “get done around the site” by going to their financial people and having them crunch the numbers, not by waiting for city officials to tell them what they’re willing to offer.

In short, this isn’t really much news — Sternberg didn’t even promise a site decision by the end of the year, just say it was his goal — but is a good reminder that the real issue here is less where Sternberg wants to put a new stadium, and more how he figures out a way to pay for it, which is almost certain to involve some kind of public subsidies. Stay tuned for any details of that, and pay no attention to anything else that might appear to be going on in the meantime.

18 comments on “Sternberg: I’ll pick stadium site as soon as cities decide how much money to offer me

  1. Looks as if Florida will soon have another empty ball park. Yes keep building them stadiums until you find a spot people want to go , even if they have to sit through a baseball game.

    • St Pete’s mayor is now talking of putting a soccer stadium on the Trop site, though it appears he didn’t ask anyone else involved if they thought this was a good idea first.

  2. What I heard is that If a team is awarded to Tampa , MLS would like the team to play in T- field. I thinking a minor renovation like in Portland. Looks like a good stadium plan for soccer and up & coming sports like lacrosse etc. Take over the empty ball parks littering every corner of the country.

    • Would MLS put a team in a stadium with a permanent roof? Do they allow field turf, or would grass have to be carted in for each game?

      • MLS will approve any type of stadium and surface, as long as they get their expansion fees.

        Vancouver Whitecaps are playing on turf with a permanent roof.

        New York City FC is playing at the Yankees Stadium on a ridiculous small field (but legal based on FIFA rules) and they got a MLS franchise.

  3. If the Rays leave the Trop, St. Pete wants to redevelop that parcel to get it on the tax rolls. Just keeping the stadium and having a soccer team play there would be insane on economic grounds, let alone geometric ones.

      • Maybe the parking lots? But then soccer/lacrosse/whatever fans would need a place to park.,-82.6529178,847m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x9eacaa905938efdd!8m2!3d27.7682246!4d-82.6533921

      • Exactly, they can modify the Tropicana Field (remove the roof?) or just build a new stadium as part of St. Pete development plan for the site.

  4. Cities can push back and reply to MLB leave if you want. We have replacement tenants willing to pay rent and maintain.

    • With a few exceptions, it is not clear to me that cities wouldn’t be better off without the tenant and any ancillary income streams from their ‘existence’ the public treasury might receive, if they could also lose the extra costs involved in hosting the franchises.

  5. Go ahead and “pick” a site, Sir. Your lease does not allow you to move until 2027 (or possibly 2028).

    Lots of time to build, then… no need for overtime for the construction workers…

  6. Sternberg is not trying to find out how to pay for it (a new stadium), he’s trying to figure out how NOT to pay for it.

    • Of course he doesn’t want to pay for it. What MLB (or NBA or NFL or NHL) owner wants to pay for their own facility? That’s for other privately-owned businesses who only provide jobs rather than the ego boost sports teams provide fans who claim having this sport or that makes their hometown a “world-class city.” It’s like Viagra without that pesky prescription.

      The real problem for the Rays will remain wherever a new ballpark is built: Where will they find people to fill it? For all the ballplayers the state of Florida develops, there’s never really been the fan base there to match. Even when Maddon was managing and the Rays were winning, they weren’t exactly packing the Trop.

      I love the irony that the same facility often used as leverage in other MLB cities for new ballparks is now being used as leverage for a new ballpark in Tampa-St. Pete itself. What goes round…