Make no mistake about it, the sky is falling. Never mind the fact that the Tampa Bay Rays are coming off a 96-win season — culminating in their first postseason berth since 2013 — or that as I type this the weather is ridiculously beautiful without a cloud in the sky. No, life is nothing but an existential death spiral filled with doom and gloom. Throw on your favorite black clothing, cue up your favorite Sisters of Mercy album — preferably Some Girls Wander by Mistake, which is excellent — and dust off your copy of the Birth of Tragedy by Friedrich Nietzsche.
After all, if you have paid even the slightest bit of attention this week, an empty and all-encompassing feeling that the Rays are as good as gone, fueled by an endorsement* of the sister city concept by MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, has been fostered by those within the media would rather give Rays principal owner Stu Sternberg, team presidents Brian Auld and Matt Silverman, and the commissioner** yet another mouthpiece to further what amounts to a leverage ploy.
Actually, the sky isn’t falling. I was being sarcastic if you couldn’t tell. I digress.
If I’m being honest, I haven’t covered the Stadium Saga as much as I once had for a simple reason: I have become wary of amplifying the abovementioned parties. They get enough sympathetic coverage from local media outlets, like WDAE.
My time is better spent reminding you that the Rays’ newly minted aggressive timetable lends itself to the stuff of a revved-up leverage ploy. And the car being driven by Sternberg? It’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. See, he 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.
I fail to see how the team could pull off a two-city, dual $600-million stadium deal in nine-to-ten months when it couldn’t even cobble together the funding for one stadium in its three-year search within the region. That’s especially so considering that Montreal has neither the funding nor a site, while Mayor Rick Kriseman has already told the team that if it chooses to further its interest in the sister city concept, it would funding its own part-time stadium come 2028. …And as we all know, Sternberg does not want to pay for a stadium on his own. Then again, perhaps Stephen Bronfman could transfer some of the tax money he laundered, I mean legally moved, for Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.
Lastly, since many of you have raised legitimate concerns about the, as of now, commissioner endorsed plan to relocate the team, at least partially. Because of it, I wanted to remind you of a few of the times that an MLB commissioner has advocated for relocation or contraction as a threat. Of note, none of these instances bore more than leverage for the very wealthy owners who sought to receive money for nothing.
Minnesota Twins Stadium Stalemate in 2001
Miami Marlins Stadium Stalemate in 2005
Tampa Bay Rays Stadium Stalemate
Oakland Athletics Stadium Stalemate
I could go on.
At the end of the day, the Rays have attempted to threaten their way into a new stadium for more than a decade, as the team attempts to get a facility built with only a minimal contribution. What’s more, media outlets like the Times and WDAE have advocated for public subsidies for almost as long.
It’s times like these that a gentle reminder to breathe — and, well, not to panic — is necessary. Otherwise, it becomes incredibly difficult to separate the signal from the noise.
*Never mind the fact that Manfred also said he remained “open to the idea” of the Rays getting a new full-time stadium in the Tampa Bay area.
**You know, because an MLB commissioner HAS NEVER rattled his saber in favor of a team seeking a publicly subsidized stadium.