As expected, Opening Day came and went with more stadium related non-news (or non-stadium related news, if you prefer) from Principal Owner Stu Sternberg, which the local media of course pounced on.
Tom Jones (Tampa Bay Times) wrote about Sternberg’s Q&A scrum with the media, noting that Stu would be willing open up his wallet a little wider if the team got a $25-million a year naming rights deal, similar to that of the Mets.
“But that’s yet to be determined,” Sternberg said. “A large part will be put on the business community. I put a number out there and it sort of shocked people. We could basically put anything we want out there. I try to be realistic and I try to tell everybody as I see it.”
Using the New York Mets as an example, Sternberg did bring up one scenario in which the Rays might be willing to pay more. The Mets received $25 million a year from Citigroup for stadium naming rights.
“If somebody wants to walk in with $25 million naming rights tomorrow my number of $150 (million) goes up dramatically,” Sternberg said. “So, yeah, I’ll get you to $400 (million). You get me $25 million a year in stadium naming rights and get me to $400, I’ll go halfsies.
But don’t count on that happening in Tampa. While the Mets can get that kind of money to name a ballpark in New York City, the number one media market in the country, it’s highly doubtful the same would happen in Hillsborough County.
Noah Pransky (Shadow of the Stadium, 10 Investigates) also poured cold water on the idea, writing:
The Mets’ deal was worth $20M a year, not $25M;
The Mets play in the No. 1 media market in the country;
The Rays’ current deal with Tropicana deal is reportedly worth just $3.5-million a year, and its hard to imagine a new deal in the same market would be worth any more than $3-5M per year.
A number of teams reportedly seeking naming rights deals, such as the Marlins and Nats, haven’t found anyone willing to meet their prices.
In another piece by Jones, he also went as far as to question whether the Ybor City preferred site would be the forever home of the Tampa Bay Rays:
As far as where, the Rays and Hillsborough County have agreed on Ybor City as a preferred site. But even that is not a done deal.
“We’ve got a lot of things lined up up to this point,” Sternberg said. “And now it’s up to us, it’s up to the business community, it’s up to the community leaders and the political people in Hillsborough to do what they think is appropriate to ensure baseball here for generations to come.”
However, my favorite quote from the scrum found Sternberg throwing shade at his own optimism for a deal in Ybor. When asked if they can make it work, Sternberg replied, “I’m not confident, I’m not certain, but I’m optimistic.”
You’ve got to appreciate his honesty.
Back in February, when the preferred site announcement (read: Sternberg’s attempt at building leverage) was initially made, the Tampa Bay Times gave the project a 36% chance of being completed in Ybor City. Pransky reiterated that idea on Thursday, opining that without a funding mechanism in place, the Rays would likely re-engage talks with St. Petersburg since that community has more money to spend.
…And so it goes, more stadium related non-news (or non-stadium related news, if you prefer).