BOB: stadium newsby Brian Borawski
August 08, 2012
MLB meets with San Jose and OaklandAt least you can say MLB is doing something to help resolve the Oakland Athletics' stadium situation. After not saying much around the All-Star break, it looks like the MLB committee that's reviewing the stadium situation met with political leaders in both San Jose and Oakland earlier this week. There's not a lot of news out of the meeting other than that it happened, because everyone was sworn to secrecy. The speculation, though, is that baseball in Oakland might not be as dead as we thought.
There was also grumbling that owner Lew Wolff should sell the team so someone more Oakland-friendly would help keep the team in Oakland. However, Wolff said he still has no intention to sell. In the meantime, San Jose officials appeared confident that they were the only player in the Athletics' stadium race, but of course, the San Francisco Giants have yet to cede that part of their territory.
Rays stadium rhetoric heats upLast week I talked about how a legal opinion could open up talks between Hillsborough County and the Tampa Bay Rays. While they're probably not allowed to specifically talk about it, the goal is to talk around a potential team move to Tampa. The Rays have agreed, and now St. Petersburg mayor Bill Foster has vowed to sue if this actually happens.
This standoff has been going on for years. Despite the Rays' success the past few years, their attendance has been lackluster. They're of course blaming Tropicana Field, but St. Petersburg seems to be taking a more rigid stance by not even allowing them to enter into a discussion with anyone. I figured some sort of settlement would have been reached by now, but it looks like St. Petersburg is sticking to its guns.
Cubs renovation financing starts taking shapeThe Ricketts family, owner of the Chicago Cubs, wants to do a wholesale renovation of historic Wrigley Field, and they've been looking to see who will chip in. Initially, it was reported that the city of Chicago was out because Ricketts ran some anti-Barack Obama ads, but now it's being reported that mayor Raul Emanuel has said that the most the city will put forward in financing is $125 million. The Ricketts are said to want to put up $200 million, and the hope is that the state of Illinois will help out with $150 million.
There's also some hope that revenue from two new screens in the outfield will help lighten the costs, as well. Of course, this could cause problems for local business owners because their rooftop views might be blocked. It looks like it will take eighteen months to complete everything, so the Cubs would have to find a temporary home for at least one full season.
Royals take heat for repair drawsThe Kansas City Royals have asked for $17 million in taxpayer money out of a repair and upkeep fund over the past five years, but it's now being revealed that they've spent only a fraction of this amount on actual repairs and maintenance. They've used the money to pay for just about anything, including salaries and other stadium services. The Royals technically aren't exactly doing anything wrong because event-day operations are an allowable expense, but it does present the question of why the the taxpayers are paying for the day-to-day operations of the team.
Minor League newsThere have been a couple of interesting minor league happenings in the past week. The Lansing Lugnuts and the Toronto Blue Jays extended their player development contract for another two years, so the Lugnuts will be an affiliate of the Blue Jays through 2014. The Lugnuts have been affiliated with the Jays since 2005, and the Lugnuts are having an exceptional season in 2012 with a 70-37 record. I've been to a few Lugnuts games, and they put on a top-notch show; it's one of my son's favorite parks.
In other news, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs honored their three millionth fan since the team's ballpark opened back in 2008. They've led the minors in attendance the past couple of years, and they honored the milestone fan with some fun memorabilia.
Brian Borawski is a member of SABR's Business of Baseball Committee and writes about the Detroit Tigers at his own website, TigerBlog. He welcomes comments, questions and suggestions via e-mail.