BOB:  Stadium updates around the league

Rays stadium update

If you want a nice one-stop source on just about anything and everything stadiums, Field of Schemes by Neil DeMause is the place to go. I read the earlier version of his book and have his updated version on my to-do list but he’s done a nice job of keeping up with all that’s going on with the Tampa Bay Rays and their quest for a new stadium. In his latest update, he talks about how Pinellas County is putting together a plan to use $70 million of hotel tax money to help get the Rays their new ballpark. He also talks about how they might use some public money to build a mass transit line near wherever the build the new ballpark and he finishes with a story on how Orlando could make a play for the team.

Like Neil says, the more the words “Rays” and “stadium” are in the paper, the further along this could go. People are thinking about it. You just have to hope that it doesn’t take more than a decade like it did for the cross state Florida Marlins.

Rangers go to auction

It’s hard to separate the facts from the opinions when it comes to the whole Texas Rangers bankruptcy situation. First it was rumored that the court was going to force the Rangers into an auction, then it was said that the auction could just be a rumor. Now earlier this week it was announced that the Rangers themselves were putting themselves up for auction in an attempt to appease Tom Hicks’, the owner of the Rangers, creditors.

There are a couple of catches. MLB would still have to approve the owner. The other catch is that if the group led by Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan don’t win, they’d get $15 million for their troubles.

The auction is set for July 16, and the winner will be announced six days later. The starting bid is the $502 million being offered by Greenberg and Ryan and that must be beaten by $20 million. It takes a $1.5 million deposit to get into the game and bid increments will be $2 million. If MLB doesn’t approve the winner, then the person in second place would get his shot. The hope is that if the auction does happen that the new owner will be in place by August.

Work finally begins at old Yankee Stadium site

Work on Heritage Field, the 11-acre, multi-field project that was part of the public financing deal that the New York Yankees were given, has finally begun. The groundbreaking took place last week and the project will include three baseball fields, bleachers, a track and field as well as some memorabilia related to old Yankee Stadium.

Not everyone is happy though. The groundbreaking is very late and when the new ballparks were constructed, five ballparks were torn down, not just three, so the area will be two parks short. The project is scheduled to be completed in 2011.

Marlins stadium not as profitable for area as first thought

Whenever a team pitches for a new ballpark, one of the first things that’s thrown out is how much it will benefit the area and how many jobs it’ll create. There’s also the hope that the whole area will boom and everyone for miles around will benefit. A lot of times, this is smoke and mirrors and in the case of the Florida Marlins, it just hasn’t happened yet. With the new ballpark a third of the way done, there’s been little activity in the surrounding area that would qualify as economic development.

Part of the problem is there was no plan for the surrounding area. St. Louis had the idea of a ballpark village as did San Diego. In Miami, the focus was on the ballpark. For now, it looks like they might put up a charter school, but that’s about it. It’ll be interesting to see whether the area gets their money’s worth out of the ballpark.

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  1. Steve said...

    I think the days of new stadiums pumping up the area and the fanbase are over.  In this economy with jobs lost, putting millions of dollars into a new ballpark with no guarantee that the place will be any kind of financial windfall for the community is just bad spending.  Take the money and put it toward schools or build roads.  You have a functional ballpark now?  It’s not THAT old, live with it.  You want to move you say?  Good luck finding somewhere to move TO!!  I used to be all for new ballparks, but no more.

  2. Jim said...

    Or maybe the days of threatening to move the team unless the taxpayers pay are over.  Maybe some are asking if we really need to pay so the billionaire owner’s team can have a place to play for his millionaire players and be paid for by thousandaire taxpayers.

  3. Brian said...

    Keep in mind that the Rays are probably thinking long term and this is more of a grass roots lobbying thing.  We may still be talking about it this time in five years, but if we’re still talking about it, means there’s probably some progress being made.

  4. DFJinPgh said...

    Brian, thanks for the good work in this column (and all your other BOB columns).

    Re: Marlins stadium area development, has there ever been a ballpark boast that panned out? There’s been a ton of development around the stadium here in Pittsburgh, but isn’t it really just shifting peoples’ disposable income from one location to another? With taxes paid for the stadium, isn’t that just a net loss?

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