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July 19, 2011
Rays' Maddon, Silverman: All the other kids are laughing at our stadium!
Out of nowhere, the Tampa Bay Rays have turned up the heat on their stadium demands — with some unlikely members of the organization taking the point. First came this salvo from Rays manager Joe Maddon:
"This ballpark is improper for Major League Baseball. ... You shouldn't play with all these obstructions, and all these caveats. Of course not. It's run its course. It was here for a moment. It served its purpose. And now it's time to move on. Absolutely it is. And to deny that, everybody has just got their head in the sand, period. ...
"This is a great place to raise a family and for me it's a great place to have a major-league team — the Tampa Bay area. So looking down the road I would hope that people have enough foresight to construct the new ballpark in the right place that maintains us here for many years, and permits us to build this [organization] into what we can. It's already pretty darn good — we could make it even better with the right facilities.
"The new ballpark would have to be retractable. To do otherwise would be economic suicide — it's uncomfortable, the rain, the disruptions with the game, the disruptions with your work. All that stuff would be counter-productive. If you’re going to do it, do it right. Do it right, man."
Rays team president Matt Silverman then followed up with this:
"Joe speaks from the heart, and I agree with what he said. It's hard to combat the national media's depiction of our stadium. Our situation has become a distraction. It is affecting the clubhouse, and it spills over onto the field of play. It damages the national reputation of St. Pete and Tampa Bay, and it harms the Rays brand. Clearly, something needs to be done."
The apparent trigger for all of this was this incident during Sunday night's nationally televised game, in which a foul ball shattered a light, showering the field with broken glass. ESPN announcers picked up on the "Tropicana Field is a dump" theme, reporters asked Maddon what he thought of it, and it was off to the races.
There's no doubt that Maddon and Silverman would love a new workplace — hey, who wouldn't? — but some of their complaints border on the bizarre: Rain is a "disruption to the game"? Rays players can't focus on baseball because they're worried that other cities are making fun of them? And, for that matter, how exactly is a shattered lightbulb — the first in nearly 14 seasons of games at the Trop — an indication that the whole place needs to be torn down (as opposed to, say, switching to sturdier light fixtures)?
The whole incident is weirdly reminiscent of the falling beam incident at Yankee Stadium in 1998, which turned out to mean nothing in terms of the stadium's structural integrity (it was actually an "expansion joint" that had worked loose, and a subsequent inspection by the city Buildings Department found that the stadium was in fine shape), but sparked a citywide debate about where and when a new stadium should be built. Then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani opted for a Manhattan location, it was summarily shot down, and he instead proposed a new stadium in a public park across the street from the old one in the Bronx; that was shot down at first by incoming Mayor Michael Bloomberg as well in 2002, but Bloomberg revived the plan three years later — helped along by Yankees lobbyists whose salaries, under a lease drawn up by Giuliani, were paid for by city taxpayers.
In any case, St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster replied with his usual trump card: "They have 15 years left on their lease agreement ... so yeah, I'm holding on pretty tightly. If they want to look at sites within Pinellas County, I'm all for that." The problem with that argument is that it makes Foster look like an obstructionist who's only concerned with who gets to play host to a new stadium, not whether one is needed, how much should be spent, or most important, who should pay for it.
The real question that should be asked, meanwhile, is if the Trop is really "improper for Major League Baseball," why so many teams threatened to move there in the '80s and '90s in order to extract new stadiums from their home cities (off the top of my head: the White Sox, Indians, Giants, Rangers, and at least two or three more that I'm forgetting); not to mention why MLB ultimately gave St. Petersburg an expansion franchise in 1998 despite knowing where their home park would be. Has the definition of "improper" really changed that much in 13 years? If rain is now an unacceptable distraction, I guess maybe...
UPDATE: Now Maddon thinks that "doing it right" should include two stadiums covered by the same sliding roof. Give the man credit, when he fantasizes, he fantasizes big.
Ahhh, better than Dilbert.
I'm sure it is hard for Silverman to combat the national media's depiction of their stadium... particularly when the owner is the one doing most (nearly all) of the complaining to the media about it.
If Maddon really doesn't want to have to play in uncomfortable conditions (like rain or, presumably, sweat on the uniform), he could take up another profession. He couldn't go to any of the 26 teams (?) than don't have a roof (retractable or otherwise), however. I don't believe they have air conditioned or dehumidifying uniforms either. Nor holographic displays.
If Sternberg wants out, he can buy his way out. Then he can pay the Yankees (and maybe Mets & Phillies) to allow him into New York/NJ. That way, everybody wins. Maybe even Sternberg.
Isn't that really what this is all about?
When interviewed about my offices I have the following to say:
"This office building is improper for National technical assistance provider... You shouldn't work with all these problems, and all these annoyances. Of course not. It's run its course. It was here for a moment. It served its purpose. And now it's time to move on. Absolutely it is. And to deny that, everybody has just got their head in the sand, period.
"This is a great place to raise a family and for me it's a great place to have a mid-sized business, the Saint Paul area. So looking down the road I would hope that people have enough foresight to construct a new office building in the right place that maintains us here for many years, and permits us to build this [organization] into what we can. It's already pretty darn good � we could make it even better with the right facilities.
"The new office would have to have more offices with windows. To do otherwise would be economic suicide � it's uncomfortable, the mice, the noise from the copy area, the temperature in the conference rooom disrupting your work.
"Josh speaks from the heart, and I agree with what he said. It's hard to combat the federal government's impression of our offices. Our situation has become a distraction. It is affecting the our contract applications, and it spills over into our meetings. It damages the national reputation of St. Paul and Minnesota, and it harms the organizational brand. Clearly, something needs to be done."
And that thing is for the country residents to spring for a new office building for us!
There are 500,000 county residents. If we give them all a $10 "new office" surcharge that would almost certainly be enough money for us to move to a fantastic new facility. Who is going to miss $10? Meanwhile you can rest assured that when our employees and customers are at our place of business they will be in complete comfort and style. As a bonus our improved facilities will allow us to increase our revenue generation and that should be able to bring in economic benefits to the community of $10-20 million dollars, at least.
Sure you might say, "Why are we are paying for your offices? When you get all the benefits?"
Rest assured we will spend our increased incomes in the community (and elsewhere). With all the money we will be spending it will be just like you got a raise too! And you won't even miss that nasty $10 you weren't using anyway.
Why would the phils, yanks and mets - not to mention several minor league franchises all within a 2 to 3 hour drive - agree to water down their market share (tv, advertising, corporate box/tix sales etc.) of potential revenue streams by allowing another competitor into their area?
The corporate expansion of the 90's is over and the their spending on sports franchises has decreased, the major local income stream for mlb franchises.
North new jersey (?newark?) is becoming the the new "go to" location for those who don't understand the biz of mlb.
The current newark baseball franchise is hanging on by it's fingernails and meadowlands events turn route 3 into a parking lot.
The high-end revenue pie isn't growing and can only be divided just so many ways before it becomes meaningless.
It's easy for maddon to spout about the Trop, he'll be long gone before his multi-billion dollar dream comes true.
Can another Florida local afford another Miami-$tyle boondoggle?
Why are they so gung ho to get outside? Summer in Florida sucks.
My goodness, this is utterly moronic.
It does remind me of Sacramento, too. The biggest problems: Concourses not wide enough; kitchens too small; too hard to make ice for skating shows; water heaters don't work; the seats are uncomfortable; the sound system is inadequate.
I think with the possible exceptions of the ice-making (big deal; we don't use the ice surface much at all) and the concourses, they could address all of this in one summer.
But no, we need to move to a new arena in a different part of town.
These guys are spoiled rotten. They don't get how dorky they come off. And neither do their fans.
Repeat after me, taxpayers: You're better off without them. Okay, so the owners let payrolls get out of control, and now they can't afford capital improvements. This is my problem... How?
I am looking forward to the day when a light bulb cracks inside PBP, and Joe Maloof calls a press conference to cover it.
PBP's kitchens are too small. Ya know... Get over it.
But since PBP is actually owned by the City of Sacramento, and the City is technically in violation of the lease (it specifies that the City is responsible for arena maintenance), I guess we can't really adopt that approach, can we?
And the comedy just keeps coming:
Read the comments on the story. If that isn't telling, I don't know what "telling" means.
Not to defend these guys, but many of the problems surrounding the Trop weren't realized until the Devil Rays started playing there. At the time, its engineers believed that the lights and catwalks were too far away to be whacked with fly balls and they were dead wrong.
Fun fact: Another team that also used Tampa to get a new ballpark was the Mariners.
@ Joshua - absolutely brilliant! Made my day. Thanks
Rain in Tampa? I've never heard of such a thing. I'm surprised nobody has made a threat to move them. They can fight for elbow room with the Marlins. Of course this is just a shot across the bow for the real push a few years from now to get a new stadium with skyboxes, PSLs and an enhanced net worth of the franchise to make a real killing selling it.
All I can say is WOW. Delusional & out of touch multi-millionaires spouting off like they're like underprivileged & completely entitled.
99.9% of your home games will be played
You have a roof over your head & air conditioned from the heat & humidity
You have any fans at all
You have a job
It just shows you that most people don't understand a new stadium is just a quick fix or who really feels the burden of building a new stadium. The real problem here is the division they're in & the team's location. There are much bigger & deeper problems in MLB than Tropicana Field to fix things.
Ian- They could have had a minor league team play a season, or had spring training there for a season; in order to figure out if balls would hit the catwalks. As far as lights, one broken light in 14 years is acceptable. Of course, they also could have used computer models to figure this out.