BOB: Twins and Rays stadium newsby Brian Borawski
October 13, 2010
Twins cash in on new stadiumThe Minnesota Twins got bumped from the playoffs in the first round again but fans can take some consolation in the fact that their new ballpark brought in a substantial amount of money for the team. Whether you believe author Andrew Zimbalist’s $50 million figure of Forbes magazine’s $70 million figure the end result is the team should have plenty of money to lock up key free agents over the coming years.
Of course Field of Schemes brings up an interesting point in that if the team is having such a windfall, why are county residents footing the bill for the ballpark through a sales-tax hike? Field of Schemes also mentions that this honeymoon period can sometimes be short lived if the team doesn’t perform on the field and even when they do, they usually end at around seven years at best.
Rays stadium rhetoric heats upAs I’m writing this, the Tampa Bay Rays are getting ready to fight for their playoff lives in a pivotal Game 5 showdown against the Texas Rangers. While the Rays' success on the field has them as one of the best teams in baseball, their pursuit of a new stadium has shifted in a new direction. Baseball author and columnist Howard Bryant gives us a nice rundown of the Rays and their current success. Buried in the piece is some disturbing information that could lead up to what everyone expects to be a stadium showdown.
First, he mentions that MLB commissioner Bud Selig has suggested the team not make any significant financial investment in the area until attendance improves. The Rays, despite finishing with the best record in the American League, finished with just the 22nd best attendance and they were one of just nine teams to have less than a 2 million person draw.
Bryant also goes into some of the specific stadium issues as well. He talks about how the geography doesn’t help because it cuts off a portion of the fan base. Another factor is that Florida is more of a football state but even the football teams aren’t selling out in this tough economic environment. For now, the city of St. Petersburg and the Rays have decided to put off discussions on a new stadium until after the end of the season but with that approaching, we’ll soon see what the next chapter is in this story.
Mesa’s spring training quandaryOn Nov. 2, 2010, Mesa, Ariz. voters will vote on proposition 420 and if that's passed, it would allow the city to spend up to $99 million on a new spring training complex for the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs have agreed to stay in Mesa but only if the new complex is built. The big wild card is voters will have to go into the vote not knowing how the new complex will be paid for because none of the solutions that have been thrown around have stuck. Talk about a leap of faith.
If passed, $84 million of the $99 million would be spent on the new complex and the remaining $15 million would go toward any associated infrastructure costs. If the ballpark costs more than $84 million, then the Cubs will pick up the rest of the tab. As far as how the stadium will be paid for, the options range from dipping into the city’s enterprise fund to a hotel tax.
Grumbling over umpires leads to meetingSome of the missed calls this year have led for a new round of outcry for instant replay. While the league hasn’t gone all in on instant replay yet, the Major League Baseball Players Association has pushed and will get a sit down meeting in December with the players, umpires and league officials hashing out ideas for the future. Details of the meeting haven’t been revealed but it’s been made known that the tension between the players and the umpires is about as high as it can get.
Minor League newsThere were some stragglers as the teams have mostly finalized deals with their minor league affiliates. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim has a new Class A advanced affiliate in the Inland Empire 66ers. The Detroit Tigers renewed their player development contract with their Double-A affiliate, the Erie SeaWolves, for another two years. Finally, the Florida Marlins will have the Jacksonville Suns as their Double-A affiliate for another two years.
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.