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June 21, 2010
Sternberg: Lease-schmease, we want out of St. Pete
So Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg didn't declare his love for St. Petersburg after all. As Noah Pransky reports:
Stu said the Rays would not negotiate exclusively with St. Pete, despite their current use agreement. Said he'd only listen to stadium proposals through a process that considers ALL stadium possibilities.
Quotes include: "We need to be in a location that makes it easy for our fans to reach."
The Rays will not be playing in Tropicana Field when our current lease expires in 2027."
Or, per Jonah Keri:
RT @jasoncollette Sternberg's presser in one sentence: "Baseball will not work long-term in downtown St Pete". Agree 120%!
Of course, as Pransky notes, none of this is really news: The Rays have been hinting that they want to get closer to their fans on the Tampa side of the bay for well over a year now. (Or as one commenter on the Channel 10 live chat put it: "guess I missed something. He didn't tell us anything.") What Sternberg's statement appears to be is a shot across the bow of St. Pete, as well as an attempt to head off the city's threatened lawsuit, in effect saying, "We're only going to talk new stadiums if we can talk to everyone, so if there's no talking going on, blame St. Pete."
Now, St. Petersburg officials may well not care, given that they have a lease in place that binds the team from even talking about leaving Tropicana Field for the time being. But if nothing else, Sternberg's statement refocuses the pressure on the city, while getting people talking about where a new stadium should go rather than whether one should be built (or, god forbid, who would pay for it) — and that's what good p.r. is all about, right?
Surely this can't pass for "news" at the SPT?
Sternberg is free to talk. He is not, to the best of my knowledge, free to leave until after the 2027 season. I doubt the folks in St. Petersburg can stop him from talking, or taking meetings, or running out an endless number of thin on detail proposals that make it look like the club is about to hop it across the bay (or wherever). But they can stop him from moving, or at least win heavy damages if he does.
Then again, at the rate he's going, the lease at the trop will be up long before someone else builds him a stadium elsewhere...
Both the St. Pete Times and the Tampa Trib have this on the front page of their websites right now, so I guess they took the bait.
Also, the first comment on the Trib story is from a Trib editor:
"This is Dennis Joyce, an editor at TBO. Where do you think the Rays should build a new stadium? What role should government play in that?"
Notice it's "Where do you think," not "Do you think." Like shooting babies in a barrel...
"Unless we have that regional community discussion, I think we're looking at the distinct possibility of the Charlotte Rays or Las Vegas Rays," Hagan said.
Right, because both of those cities have MLB facilities ready to go. No, wait, because both of those cities have limitless public funds and are anxious to use them to build a sports facility. Um, wait, oh, nevermind. If I've learned anything in years of following FoS.com the validity of the threat is irrelevant.
I'm assuming the Joyce poll had only preformatted options for selection?
Were "New Jersey" and "none" available for selection???
It was just an open-ended question, actually. So far the leading answers look to be "closer to my house" and "don't let the door hit you in the butt."