New Rays stadium pitch
Local developer Darryl LeClair made his stadium pitch to the St. Petersburg city council last week with the hope of a stadium on the city’s north side. You can check out the picture at Field of Schemes, which would come with a retractable dome and a nice waterfront setting. LeClair owns the land and he’s throwing around a cost estimate of $540 million to $570 million when you consider the surrounding infrastructure.
Right now, there’s a lot of legal dancing because the Rays and the city aren’t allowed to talk to anyone about a new ballpark because of the provisions in the current lease. And more importantly, there’s been no plan to pay for it. Until that materializes, there’s not a lot of substance to the plan.
World Baseball Classic details
Further details on the 2013 World Baseball Classic were released last week. First-round games will be held in Japan, Taiwan, Puerto Rico and Phoenix. The second round will be held at the Tokyo Dome and at Marlins Park and the finals will be held at AT&T Park in San Francisco. Japan has hosted in the other two World Baseball Classics. Taiwan is going to be host of the tournament for the first time. California appears to be a popular destination for the finals: The previous two have been held in PETCO Park and Dodger Stadium.
The Classic begins March 2, with the finals March 19. Other then a few play-in games that have begun, it appears the format is going to be the same. The first round is a round-robin format with the top two teams in each division moving on to the semi-finals.
This marks the first time that the International Baseball Federation is sanctioning the Classic, so the winner will be crowned the IBAF World Champion as well as the World Baseball Classic Champion.
Changes in minor league baseball
One of my favorite columns is Ben Hill’s Minoring in Business. His latest installment has a rundown of the changes among minor league affiliates. Player development contracts expire in even-numbered years so in years like this you see a flurry of changes. Recently, teams have been looking for affiliates close to their big league ballparks. This was the case in the one Triple-A swap that saw the Toronto Blue Jays lock up the Buffalo Bisons; the New York Mets now are affiliated with the Las Vegas 51s.
Hill goes into some nice details as to why these changes might have happened. He says having a winner can help minor league teams at the gate even though they usually market themselves as a family-friendly night out. Hill noted that Midwest League teams changed affiliates in a year in which several leagues didn’t see a single change. There’s also a link to a Hill article of a couple of years ago on player development contracts and affiliate changes. It’s worth reading.
I’ll be doing a comprehensive attendance analysis next week, but with just a couple of games left for half of the teams, we can see where most everyone is going to end up. Unless the New York Yankees have an over-the-top draw in the final two games, the Philadelphia Phillies are going to lead baseball in attendance. This is the second year in a row they’ve been tops and the New York No. 2. The Texas Rangers have supplanted the San Francisco Giants at number three and the Los Angeles Dodgers look to be safe at number five.
The Tampa Bay Rays are going to finish last unless people show up to Tropicana Field in droves for their final two games. The Houston Astros are second to last, just ahead of the Cleveland Indians. Nine teams are going to finish with three million tickets sold and 23 teams will top the two million mark.