Tampa Bay Rays brass — including principal owner Stu Sternberg — met with Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, as well as alleged land scamming Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan,* on Monday, as they continued their 2020 fan disenfranchisement (and/or PTSD triggering) tour. It’s only February.
During their 2-1/2 hour-long meeting, in which Castor blew off…pardon me, delayed the formal signing of a police union contract, Tampa’s Mayor all but capitulated to Sternberg by indulging the Rays owner in his cockamamie leverage ploy, and, essentially, told him that Tampa is all in for a part-time team.
I do commend Castor, who was quoted as saying, “we’re going to do everything that we can with the caveat that the citizens’ appetite of paying for a stadium is about zero at this point.” If you didn’t catch that, Castor acknowledged that there is a near-zero desire by the citizens of Hillsborough to fund a stadium for a part-time team, which is hardly a sign of wholehearted engagement.
Beyond what is written above, I will neither amplify the Rays or the Tampa Bay Times, who continue to further the cause for a publicly subsidized stadium, any further than this. I’m sure you can find another account of the meeting elsewhere. Instead of allowing Sternberg to dictate the narrative, at least on this site, I would like to reiterate a few points I wrote about on Sunday, in a piece titled Movement in the Rays stadium stalemate? Meh.
The Rays’ newly minted aggressive timetable is akin a revved-up leverage ploy. It’s a recklessly driven car that’s in top gear and headed for dead man’s curve, where it likely will plummet off a cliff and burn into nothingness like his previous $892-million gambit, in Ybor City. Sternberg now intends to have a two-city, two-stadium deal hammered out in the next nine-to-ten months…even though the sister city concept wouldn’t take effect for another eight years. I too am scratching my head.
If you are keeping track, that’s dual $600-million open-air stadiums in two municipalities for one part-time team. And if you’re seeking more idiocy, Sternberg said two half-season open-air stadiums (with one in St. Petersburg) would ultimately be more cost-effective than the previous concept pitched in 2017.
The quoted cost of a fixed roof stadium in 2017 was $892-million ÷ 81 home games per season x a 30-year “mortgage”, which comes out to be $330,370,370 per game over the span of that 30-year “mortgage”. The cost for an open-air stadium is $600-million ÷ 41-games x a 30-year “mortgage”, or $439,024,390.20 (rounded to the nearest penny) over the span of that 30-year “mortgage”. Nope, neither cheaper nor more cost-effective.
Put another way, that’s $11,012,345.68 (rounded to the nearest penny) per game for a fixed-roof stadium for a full-time team and $14,634,146.34 (rounded to the nearest penny) per game for an open-air stadium for a part-time team. Again, neither cheaper nor more cost-effective.
Furthermore, taxpayers in Tampa Bay and Montreal would be paying $7,243,601.32 per game for a pair of open-air stadiums for a part-time team, or $217,308,039.60 per game over the span of that 30-year “mortgage”. Still neither cheaper nor more cost-effective.
Forgive me, I did not calculate interest or any other extraneous costs.
Also relevant, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be seeking Hillsborough tax dollars following the 2027 season when their current use agreement at Raymond James Stadium is up.
That begs the question: Are the Rays done with St. Petersburg. The simple answer is no, after all, if Stu really and truly wants nothing to do with the west side of the bay, not to mention the hope of a full-time stadium — a proposal that St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman continues to hang his hat on — Sternberg could come up with a fair use-agreement buyout number and buy his way out of the Sunshine City and give up the redevelopment rights embedded in the team’s use agreement. He is worth over $800-million, while Forbes has valued the team at $1-billion. That’s a no brainer, right? Sternberg, however, neither wants to contribute much to any of his money to this project nor does he have the desire to forgo the millions of dollars in Trop redevelopment money fund that he could collect if he stayed put.
Finally, I will let a series of tweets — which likely would do a better job of articulating counter-arguments — close out this piece.
…And while I don’t necessarily agree with Joe Henderson (Florida Politics), that the Rays will ultimately end up in Tampa as a full-time team, the rest of this article (linked below via Twitter) is fairly spot-on.
I need a drink; could someone please pass me an ice wine or a Labatt Blue?
*For what it’s worth, Ken Hagan is currently under FBI investigation because of his crooked dealings.