Pat Williams, mad that Orlando got snubbed for MLB’s pretend expansion list, introduces “Orlando Dreamers” logo and hat

Former Orlando Magic executive Pat Williams is making an announcement right now about a possible new MLB team for Orlando, and I’m liveblogging it like it’s 2008! (Which is to say, writing down notes as it goes and then posting it all afterwards.)

Highlights:

“The next logical step is to try and become a Major League Baseball city!”

“We need a mascot! But that’s not pertinent right now. What is pertinent is finding out how badly this community wants to do this.”

“I saw a news report that Major League Baseball was considering expanding at some point to 32 teams. And then Major League Baseball announced the six markets they would be considering: Montreal, Portland, Vancouver, Nashville, Las Vegas, and Charlotte. And when I read that, my competitive blood rose, and kept rising.”

“Orlando, Florida, the 18th largest media market in the country!”

“We have a nickname. And we’re going to tell you about it. When I say Walt Disney, what comes to mind? What I say Arnold Palmer. When I say astronaut John Young. … They were all dreamers!”

“So ladies and gentlemen, may I inform you that we will be the Orlando Dreamers baseball team.”

Way too much to unpack here, starting with why Pat Williams thinks that name-checking Arnold Palmer is going to resonate with sports fans of today. (Not to go all generational politics on you, because generational politics is the opiate of the masses, but it should not escape notice that Pat Williams is 79 years old.) Mostly the takeaway should be that now that MLB has hinted that maybe someday possibly it might admit more expansion teams, every would-be team owner is jockeying to get in line; and now that the Nashville Stars have shown that you can get attention just by announcing a team name, everybody else is going to try that as well. I look forward to the flood of terrible team names that will surely result, plus the flood of terrible stadium renderings, though not so much to the public-money bidding war that MLB is almost certain to launch in order to determine which teams make the cut, once the Oakland A’s and Tampa Bay Rays stadium situations are resolved and there’s an actual cut to make.

And speaking of the Rays, surely Williams doesn’t think Orlando could get an expansion team even if the Rays are still in Tampa Bay? Someone at the press conference just asked, and Williams replied:

“At this point, all I can tell you is this. The Rays have eight years left on a lease. They have said that they are exploring this radical plan to play in two cities. … Can it happen? Well, they’re going to see if it can happen. In the meantime, our job with any potential owner is to make this package here so attractive, and so — how about this word — luscious, that people say, ‘We gotta get there.’ … I’m dreaming a little bit, guys. So that’s my answer there, Mike.”

So you are, Pat. Just like Arnold Palmer would have wanted.

UPDATE: This is what the @OrlandoDreamers Twitter just tweeted to show off the new logo and hat. Their social media director may also be 79 years old:

 


14 comments on “Pat Williams, mad that Orlando got snubbed for MLB’s pretend expansion list, introduces “Orlando Dreamers” logo and hat

  1. I don’t think Pat Williams realizes that he just laid bare the very deep, and seemingly very permanent, inferiority complex that this town has always had about itself.

    (Or that maybe the golf course isn’t the best place to announce your intentions to bring an MLB franchise to town, but that’s neither here nor there).

    Listen, the guy is obviously an Orlando legend, and will rightly be regarded as such. But just about every Floridian who’s younger than him knows an obvious scheme when they see one. Someone close to him probably should have let him know.

  2. Clippy: It looks like you are trying to design a logo for a major league baseball team using only graphics and fonts available in Word 2000. Do you need any help?

    Pat Williams: No siree Bob!

    Microsoft Bob: Wait, someone has work for me?

  3. This looks like a hamfisted attempt to gain publicity… but that aside, does anyone think that Orlando would be a better home for the Rays than Tampa-St. Pete has been?

    It would allow MLB to keep the team in Florida (which it may or may not care about one bit), assuming Williams and/or associates can raise the funding to build an MLB mallpark in or near Orlando.

    Thoughts Orlando or Tampa Bay residents? Would mlb work better in Orlando than it does where it is?

    Note to prospective ownership groups in Pensacola or Jacksonville: The Marlins are drawing in the 10k region (again). Just Sayin!

    • As far as I can tell, there are only three types of people in Orlando who genuinely think MLB would work here: 79-year old eccentrics named Pat Williams, local sports “journalists,” and fans who swear they’ll go to every game until they see the ticker prices on the tickets.

      The numbers just aren’t there to support an MLB franchise here, and if anything, they’re even worse than the ones in Tampa Bay (who everyone generally agrees is the market least capable of supporting a baseball team). It’s been at or near the bottom of the median income rankings among the 50 largest US metro areas for what seems like forever, and the nature of the local economics makes it so that it’ll be rooted to the bottom forever. And as with Tampa Bay, the sheer number of transplants and snowbirds in the area means that the number of potential fans is a lot lower than what the raw population numbers may suggest.

      Honestly, what Pat Williams did today is just a manifestation of the deep and enduring sense of insecurity that Orlando has as a city, especially in relation to the major coastal cities in Florida (and to a lesser degree, the more prominent cities in the South region)

      • And for all the talk about the franchise being propped up through the sheer force and existence of Disney… if the ballpark ends up being built anywhere remotely close to the main attractions, forget it. Much of the affluent population that does exist in the metro area is concentrated to the north and east of the downtown core, while almost all of the theme parks are based in the southwest portion of Orange County (with some extending down to Osceola County to the south).

        Even with the recent — and long-overdue — improvements to I-4, that might still be a round-trip that only the hardiest of souls are going to want to make… hmm, where have I heard this one before?

    • In terms of population, the Orlando metro is set to overtake the Tampa metro within a few years. But within a generation, the metros of both Central Florida and the Bay Area will merge along the I4 corridor. The question is not which area can better support a team. The question is which area can help pay more for the billion dollar retractable roof stadium. Orlando has Tampa beat, not that I’m advocating for it. The counties of Central Florida, if they choose to do so, can tap into their tourist tax revenues. Tampa’s tourism revenues aren’t in the same galaxy as the Orlando area. St Pete/Pinellas has tourism money, but the Rays just don’t like it there. Look for Central Florida to push their way to the front of the line as the go-to stalking horse for the mlb and the nfl (the Bucs lease ends 2028 and their attendance is consistently near the bottom).

      • And correct me if I’m mistaken, but don’t the rays own the territorial rights to Orlando, which would make relocation a bit easier? I know this Pat Williams guy is just talking about expansion, but is this his way of flirting with Sternberg to get around that pesky “no negotiating with other locales” provision in his lease?

  4. The two Florida teams rank at the end of the MLB attendance figures. I would think NJ would end up with a third team in that Metropolitan area, (NY/NJ), before Florida every does and the odds of that happening are very high to astronomical. Rays are locked into a lease, but if they want to go with the crazy two city idea, how about Tampa and Orlando. There is the old Braves spring training park at Disney. You probably can spruce it up a little and Tampa may actual draw a little better there than where they are today. They would be able to draw from Central Florida’s East and West Coasts. Make it a proof of concept for 2027. Having an owner who would spend a little money would not hurt either. They played an MLB game in Orlando years ago and if you play a team like the Mets, Yankees, or Red Sox instead of the Mariners, Royals, or Diamondbacks, you might even sell the place out. No disrespect to the fans of those teams, but Florida has many northeast transplants so there would be familiarity.

    • All of this is assuming that people in Orlando have a natural affinity for (or at least interest in) Tampa-based sports teams, and vice versa, on the account of the two cities being “close to each other.”

      The reality is that they are two totally separate markets that share very little beyond the same state, huge transient populations, and unfavorable economic conditions for adequately supporting multiple “major” sports teams

      (The distance between Orlando and Tampa is also roughly equal to the distance between Philly and NYC, and between Milwaukee and Chicago… so no, definitely not the same market)

      Put another way: Rays fans on Tampa’s side of the bay already don’t go to St Pete for games, and they “only” have to cross a bridge to get there. I don’t think there’s a snowball’s chance in hell that they would want to make a much longer trek to Orlando for games.

  5. “We haven’t been winning on the road or at home, so it’s my job as general manager to find other places to play.”

    One of my all time favorite quotes, from Pat’s early years as Magic GM.

  6. Just curious. To what extent does spring training dampen the market for regular season baseball? Yes I know the quality of the games isn’t the same and you’re getting half minor leagues in their but still its what $10 for a spring training game? Are people getting their fix during spring training and not needing the regular season for their fix?

  7. Why not? Major League Baseball has been a failure in two markets in Florida, where only football and NASCAR matter, so why not go for a trifecta of empty ballparks?