Jan 3, 2012

The stadium fight continues

by Aaron Giddens

Tampa Skyline
Courtesy: Flickr
If you pay attention to the news, you know that the Marlins organization is under investigation for how they publicly financed their new stadium. This has turned a lot of Rays fans sour (some were already sour so are now even more sour) towards a possible new stadium for the Rays. And in my opinion, this is unjust.

What everyone needs to realize is that the Rays are not the Marlins. Yes, they share the same state but they are in two different leagues with two different (sets of) owners and two different markets. So this is not a fair assumption to say the Rays would screw over Tampa Bay in the same way, I'm not saying they wouldn't but it's not something we can assume. The safe thing to assume is that they wouldn't screw us over until proven otherwise.

In a similar fashion, what St. Pete and some Tampa citizens are saying continues to break my heart. For example:

Send the Rays to Las Vegas. Who cares !!!

And then there's this one:

The Rays have an indoor stadium and a contract. If they want to leave, let them buy out the contract and wish them well. Hopefully some other city will be dumb enough to foot the bill.

Why do people do this? It doesn't help, it doesn't solve problems. What these guys (I'm assuming) need to get is that the loss of the Rays will hurt the bay area financially. With the loss of the team, the people that visit places like Ferg's nightly goes away. Tourism drops because visiting MLB fans no longer have a reason to come down here and with that, their tourist dollars stay away too. Sure it saves you money personally but it hurts your city's and local business' budget.

What the second guy needs to get is that the Rays stadium, while fiercely defended by fans like myself, is grossly out of date and away from the population center which is just two of the many reasons the stadium doesn't draw like a stadium closer to the Howard Franklin bridge would. The current location also lacks adequate public transportation. The use agreement the Rays were stuck with is also a death nail. If the Rays were to serve this contract out, there won't be a team come 2028. I don't care what needs to be done but this use agreement needs to be killed if the team is to survive, especially in Tampa Bay.

There is so much to this problem and these people don't get it. It's like trying to explain it to a opposing fan, except their local. I've said before that I don't think the fans should exclusively foot the bill. However, the fans do need to pay some, with the Rays either paying the same or more. But tax payer money should not be the exclusive source for funding this new home for our Rays.

This fight continues to rage on with all sides throwing mud and no constructive talks taking place, and it's aggravating. Whatever happens, I hope this dispute comes to a close soon with the Rays remaining in Tampa Bay. But I'm not too optimistic.


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