Field of Schemes
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May 12, 2010

Tampa Bay cities mull considering talking about building Rays stadium, maybe

Here's how much speculation over a new Tampa Bay Rays stadium is at a fever pitch: The Tampa Sports Authority just makes a brief reference to the possibility of building a sports stadium in its long-range plan, and that's enough to make headlines. Though, to be fair, some of the headlines also addressed the fact that Pinellas County is thinking about starting a new sports authority, though so far without even a specific mention of baseball.

None of this should come as any surprise, or really be news: Obviously, if the Rays can extricate themselves from their lease with the city of St. Petersburg, other localities are going to be interested in talking with them about a new stadium — though given the likely public costs that'd come along with that, you could make a fair case that whatever city doesn't end up with the Rays would be the real winner.

In other Rays news, the St. Petersburg Times reports that the first-place team's TV ratings are up, but their TV revenue isn't especially, since their contract mostly gives them a flat fee regardless of how many people are tuning in. Also, the article notes that since 31% of team revenue must be shared with the league, the marginal value of increasing revenues isn't as great as it might be in any case — the Times estimates that the Rays currently get about $30-40 million a year in league revenue-sharing money, cash that would disappear if the team significantly boosted its revenues. It's all making the supposed benefits of a new stadium look more and more dubious — though obviously the Rays would take one if somebody else were footing the bill.

UPDATE: The intrepid Noah Pransky reports that the Tampa Trib was apparently so excited about the Pinellas sports authority that it put it on its front page, despite the fact that the county had already voted down the idea the night before. Some days the death of newspapers just can't come fast enough.

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