Jun 22, 2010

And so it continues...

by Aaron Giddens

The situation about the Rays needed a new stadium continues to degrade. And St. Pete Mayor Bill Foster isn't helping.

Despite calls from Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg to have Tampa and St. Pete to unite, St. Pete continues to say basically "No chance!!"

It's getting to the point where I fear for the future of baseball in Tampa Bay. I mean even though the lease for Tropicana Field runs through 2027, I don't think the team will survive that long.

Look at it this way, the Rays have one of the worst attendance records in the MLB. Yet their television ratings are through the roof. So, that tells me fans do want to support this team. But I have to agree with the majority of the Tampa residents, it's hard to get off work at 5:30pm or 6pm and make it to the Trop in time for the 7:10pm first pitch with the type of traffic the area has.

Yet we still have those "Don't raise my taxes" screams. And now their are those of "F*** you Stu!" And those calling him a greedy wall street person. I would have to disagree, Stu is doing everything he can to make this team succeed in the area. He's lowered ticket prices, added the Summer Concert Series, changed the team name to something more marketable. I mean what more do you want this guy to do? He's done all he can, and while the World Series appearance has clearly sparked futher interest in the team (judging from the TV rating and the fact you can hardly go a local news cast without seeing a Rays shirt or hat) it hasn't translated in to more fans actually attending the games like they had hoped.

So from what I can see, baseball in downtown St. Pete just isn't gonna work like the Mayors pipe dream has it working. And keeping the team in this losing situation, obviously, hurts the team and it's fans.

Chip Carter, the sports director for FOX 13 said yesterday on the noon newscast that there's a lack of corporate sponsorship as well, and I can see that too.

The fact is with out fans coming to the park, they don't have the revenue to stay continually competitive. They are going to lose guys like Carlos Pena, Carl Crawford and eventually Evan Longoria.

I personally don't care what has to be done to preserve the future of the Rays in Tampa Bay as a whole. St. Pete Times Sports Columnist Gary Shelton made the case that it's better the Rays are trying their ultimate best to stay in Tampa Bay rather trying to move to say Las Vegas.

But Bill Foster doesn't see it that way. To him the Rays are stuck at Tropicana Field unless they only look inside St. Pete City limits for a new ballpark location, which according to the ABC collation, the group formed to find the best location for a new ballpark, will also be doomed to failure, and the Rays will die.

And it absolutely pains me to see these comments from "fans", "Don't let the door hit you on the way out." It hurts, I don't think they get how much the Rays are needed by the area. And the ones that do get talked down to like a little child.

It's just a messy situation with no one solution in sight cause of all the stubbornness and greediness from the St. Pete side. Tampa officials don't want any legal trouble. I can't blame them. It's almost as if St.Pete hates the Rays when they want something like this and loves them when they're playing good and staying in line without any lip.

The fact is simply this, it may hurt to lose the team you fought so hard to get, but do you really want to continue to be so stubborn at the expense of hurting the entire Bay area and every fan of the Rays?

There are no free rides to being the hometown to a professional team. There are sacrifices that have to be made. The question is, how far are you as a fan willing to go to keep the team you love? If you not willing to do whatever it takes, then maybe you're just not as big of a fan as you think.

My bottom line remains the same: Either you unite as one or you stay divided and fighting and you lose the team. There is no way to change that no matter how you want to spin it.


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