Rays season ticket holders enter the playing field at the Trop on Saturday for the annual, and wildly popular, Rays Fan Fest. (Photo Credit: Anthony Ateek/X-Rays Spex)

Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times) wrote on Sunday that the Tampa Bay Rays are finally set to sign a long-awaited new local TV deal. Yet while there will be an increase in revenues from the $30-million they made in 2018 — which was among the worst in Major League Baseball — it will not be nearly as much as the team had hoped. The culprit? A sports industry-wide drop in rights fees as fallout from cord-cutting and other issues, or that some of their competitors got previously, writes Topkin.

The deal will be “well, well, well under” the $82-million annual average over 15 years that we wrote about last year. Rays principal owner Stu Sternberg declined to reveal what the exact number is, or how much it could boost payroll or help pay for a new stadium, writes Topkin.

It’s going to be an increase of where we are, Sternberg said, estimating the new deal would rank about 20th in the majors. Much of the reason we’ve spent all that we have is because we knew we had some more revenue (coming) off of TV. Unfortunately, it’s going to fall reasonably short of what we anticipated four years ago.

However, as I wrote previously, there is a reason to pump the brakes on the payroll boost/new stadium point of view.

As Noah Pransky (Shadow of the StadiumWTSP News) wrote sometime back, the Rays always knew that money was coming. That is, while the team will have new revenue pouring in, it’s plausible that the “new” money will have been budgeted already.

Its likely not “new” revenue that the team is all of a sudden going to commit to payroll or a new stadium; they are revenues the team was already budgeting.

The deal could help the effort to get a new stadium built in the area, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred suggested last week.

It’s an improvement in their revenue stream and that’s always a positive, Manfred said. And I also think it’s reflective of the fact that the Tampa region is a major-league market and we ought to be able to find a way, with the help of the local officials, to make it work there.

As it stands now, the team and Fox worked out a placeholder deal for the 2019 season with hopes that the new pact will be signed, sealed, and delivered sometime during the upcoming season.


— Over 11,000 fans attended Rays Fan Fest on Saturday, helping the team to Raise more than $150-thousand for the Rays Baseball Foundation (up approximately $25-thousand over last year).

If you were walking throughout the stadium yesterday, you may have seen artistic renderings of the Left Field Ledge, which is currently under construction. If you didn’t, we’ve got you:


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Plans for the LF Ledge. #RaysFanFest2019

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— Per Topkin, the new LED stadium lights, that can be quickly turned on and off, will be an element in walk-off celebrations.

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