Sternberg meets with Tampa officials about shared-city Rays plan, it’s working, it’s wooooorking, mwuahaha!

Tampa Bay Rays owner Stu Sternberg, taking advantage of his newly confirmed right to talk before 2028 about moving the Rays out of St. Petersburg (but not to talk about moving the Rays out of St. Petersburg before 2028), met for 2.5 hours yesterday with Tampa Mayor Jane Castor and Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan about splitting the team between new stadiums in Tampa and Montreal, and also not splitting the team between new stadiums in Tampa and Montreal:

“The goal is to try and have an agreement with all three entities [the Rays, Tampa, and Hillsborough County] by the end of the year. It’s extremely aggressive. However, having gone through the last several-year exercise, I appreciate the sense of urgency and the goal of trying to reach an agreement as quickly as possible,” said Hagan, who led the talks with the team for the proposed $892 million stadium in Ybor City before they broke down in December 2018….

Castor agreed, but said she hadn’t given up hope for keeping the Rays for the entire 162-game season.

“The focus was on the split season, but I don’t think the full season is off the table yet,” Castor said.

And Hagan added:

“I am still hopeful that we can go back to the original model and framework of an entire season in Ybor City,” said Hagan. “I take the Rays at their word. Right now we are only considering a split season concept.”

Whether this whole Tampontreal Ex-Rays plan is serious or a lavishly orchestrated bluff, you’ll note that it’s working out pretty well for Sternberg: He’s gone in just one year from even his own commissioner saying he was stuck playing in St. Petersburg to suddenly getting to hold stadium talks with cities in two nations. If it lands him a new stadium in Tampa, great; if it lands him a new stadium in Montreal but not one in Tampa, he can go to the public and MLB and say, “Hey, I tried with Tampa, they didn’t hold up their end of the deal, Quebec ho!”; if it lands him new stadium offers in both, he can either pick one or go ahead with his cockamamie scheme. And if lands him nothing, well, at least he’s no worse off than where he started.

Castor and Hagan said the goal is for a deal for a Tampa stadium to be in place by the end of the year, which is a meaningless deadline since it can be extended at any time, but does provide the three parties a nice way to turn up their crisis inducers. Castor noted that “the citizens’ appetite of paying for a stadium is about zero at this point,” which is a sticking point, but there are enough creative ways to fund a stadium without making it look like citizens are paying for it when they really are — tax breaks, tax increment financing districts, free land deals, “infrastructure” spending, hey-look-over-there-what’s-that — that you know they’ll come up with something to try.

Noah Pransky, you have anything to add?

Ayep. Throw another data point on the fire for “Stuart Sternberg, not so much crazy as crazy like a fox.”

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22 comments on “Sternberg meets with Tampa officials about shared-city Rays plan, it’s working, it’s wooooorking, mwuahaha!

  1. What makes me Al Pacino in Scent of A Women mad are why the pols are even entertaining this. Do understand when you take away the team moniker that references the community it no longer becomes a community asset but a private business. If you read the Tampa Tribune (who also sympathizes with this plan) interview with Auld, the Ray’s president, a few months back its seems they are only interested in the cable revenues and don’t care if it’s a flop. At this rate just have the government write checks to Goldman sachs let it come out of social security and Medicare.

    1. Exactly public funding for sports stadium has always been a nebulous debate because the team had a link to the community. That cloud will be removed with this. It full blown corporate welfare in every sense of the word. If they can pull this off in low income Tampa, the land where 30k is decent living, this is the apocalypse. Hello oligarchy

  2. Rob Manfred just came out with a plan for the playoffs where teams can pick their opponents.

    Which isn’t nearly as idiotic as him stating that the only way to keep baseball in Tampa is for them to move to Montreal.

    I wonder how stupid “they” think we are.

    Baseball is dead.

    1. Baseball is just fine. Richer than ever. Democracy may be dead, but that is a different thing entirely…

      1. In 2030 the first millennials turn 50. Show me evidence they will embrace the game when that time comes

        1. Funny. Marketing people said the same thing when examining the 50+ aged crowd at the world series games in Oakland in 1973.

          By the early 1980s sports writers were dreaming up epitaph’s for this “noble 19th century sport” killed by the all singing all dancing Miami Vice (the first one) decade in an America that had moved on from tranquil pastimes.

          It’s still here. Revenues have never been higher.

          That’s the fundamental millennial problem in a nutshell… they mostly seem to think the world started when they were born and everything that has ever been invented they did.

          1. Thank you, John.

            For that commentary. On two fronts.

            Seems like it was only yesterday. Memories of Oakland in the early 1970’s (the 6 months in Norfolk is another story). Heady days they were. Athletics. Raiders. Golden State Warriors.

            I loved that concrete monstrosity, Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, despite its shortcomings, faults : – ) as it were. I will morn it’s loss to the wrecking ball.

            Time marches on. Makes fools of us all.

  3. Tampa Bay has so much leverage. Split season with Montreal…ha…that would not be permanent. And my guess is TB heads to Portland before they go to Canada.

    Would be a shame to see city/county “leaders” fold easily when they’ve got the cards.

    Best if the city/county leaders don’t roll

  4. Congratulations to Castor and Hagan (almost wrote Pollux but…)!

    You two morons are already bidding against yourselves and have completely ignored the leverage you have.

    Mission Accomplished Stu!

    This is just proof that if you wait a while and are reasonably patient, a total idiot will come along and give you whatever you want. It doesn’t matter that the citizens appetite for subsidies is “zero”. The citizens won’t get to vote on whatever corrupt deal these clowns make and probably won’t even get to read it before it is voted into law.

    Why not force thru a new arena deal for Viola and an NFL stadium for the Glazers while you are at it?

    Surely there are some poor people you can evict from low income housing and a few benefit programs you can cut to help out the owners of investment firms and Manchester United?

      1. Neil,
        This summer you and I debated whether or not kriesman had leverage with the user agreement. I argued he didn’t because he wanted to develop the land in this.
        My opinion now has changed. Remember the split season is the brainchild of the Bronfman group. The reason for the aggressive timeline is because basin peel only has a limited time before the Quebec government decides what to do with the land. Plus the split season allows it to avoid angry residents that don’t want all the traffic. Think the Oakland athletics with laney college.
        My opinion now is that kriesman is trying to get this into the political process for the next mayor. Stu is not so happy about that. That is why they are going to Tampa.
        The implications of this are as serious as a heart attack. When politicians say we are going to do everything they can for what is patently a private business instead of we will do what we can, I can’t see a bright future for democracy

        1. I mean, Stu is first and foremost going to Tampa because he wants to be in Tampa. Whether Tampa can give him the money he wants is another story.

          I’m right there with you re: democracy, though!

  5. Seems at least a little ironic that the same domed stadium used as leverage for building new ballparks so teams wouldn’t relocate to Tampa Bay is now being used as leverage for building new ballparks so a team will stay in AND leave Tampa Bay.

  6. First I do not believe a split season between Tampa and Montreal will ever happen. Think about the logistics. Per reports, Tampa/Montreal would be south in the spring and when the heat of summer hits, go to Montreal. If I live in Montreal why would I support the team? If the team makes the post season, it would be the time it starts getting cooler or just plain cold up north so would they move the post season to Tampa where it is warmer? (keep in mind they would hold two cities to open air stadiums, not domed).
    If so, why invest time in the team knowing I can not go to a playoffs or possible World Series game without traveling a great distance? Would MLB rotate between the two cities to appease both sides in the playoffs? Can’t see the MLBPA or owners wanting an extra travel expense for a third city?
    Why support the team in Tampa when I know I will not see the stretch run towards the end of the season when the games get exciting?
    Tampa and Miami prove they will always have attendance problems. Even when playing well, they can not draw. Maybe when the Rays are free to move from Tampa, Orlando would be the best alternative. It is growing very fast with many transplants from the the NE. It is central to both Tampa from the West and Daytona and Space Coast from the East and the large base in the Orlando area. Now if only something strange would happen like the owner paying for his own ballpark.

    1. Agreed. Apart from the “two new stadium” problem, each of which would be used only 40ish times a year… the lack of home identity would mean the end of any true local support (likely in either market).

      The Expos tried (at the instruction of MLB) splitting their home season in 2003/04 and ended up losing fans rather than gaining. You might also recall that the “Bills in Toronto” series that the NFL/Ralph Wilson/Ted Rogers tried to market was a complete failure.

      If you want a city to adopt a team as it’s own, you can’t fly in for a few games a year to vacuum up people’s money and then fly out.

      Even the Packers ended their split season home(s) experiment…

      1. The Packers didn’t end the “experiment” (which, were it actually an experiment would have been the longest-running one in history) because it didn’t work or because the games in Milwaukee didn’t draw.

        They did it because they renovated Lambeau and it no longer made sense (nor could they hope to pay off the renovations) to play three games at County Stadium.

        Know your history.

  7. Just the facts. Average Montreal Expo attendance per season.

    1998. 11,295.
    1999. 9,547.
    2000. 11,435.
    2001. 7,935.
    2002. 10,025.
    2003. 12,662.
    2004. 9,369.

    Average. 10,324.

    I can see why you “would” want to play half the season in Montreal, given these season attendance numbers.

  8. History Lesson (for those of you on this site who cut your high school history class).

    The founding fathers never intended for this nation to be a democracy. We are a Republic.

    Only white male landowners were permitted to vote at its founding. And even then, voters did not directly elect the President of the United States. Electors from the College (Electoral College. What is their mascot, again? Oh yes, I remember. Saw the logo on the sides of their football team’s helmets. $) voted for President.

    This nation has a Senate aka the Roman Empire.

    Democracy equals one man, or more precisely human being, one vote. That does not apply to the elections in this nation, which are nothing more than a beauty pageant contest between the Democratic and Republican Party’s.

    Yes, more citizens have been granted the right to vote over the course of time in this nation. However, any pretense this nation is a democracy, is just that a pretense. Both political parties feed from the same corporate trough. Corporate America seized control of politics, as well as “professional sports,” in this nation long ago. The plain fact is, this nation is an oligarchy.

    I am just hopeful Neil does not live in a 4th story apartment in Brooklyn. Thirty years to tell the tale is a long time to live, given the likelihood of an “accident.” As famous as Neil is, I’m not sure he has reached the notoriety of Andrei Sakharov.

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