The shoe we've expected to drop for at least two years (probably longer though) finally hit the floor yesterday. It wasn't as bad as it could have been, depending on how strongly you feel about the team staying in Pinellas County. Because yesterday was probably the day the clock officially started ticking towards the end of Major League Baseball in St. Petersburg.
- The Rays have the 2nd (out of 30 teams) best record in baseball
- The Rays have the lowest ticket prices in baseball
- The Rays rank 23rd (out of 30 teams) in attendance
- He said, repeatedly, that the intent is to keep the team in the Tampa Bay area
- He said they will consider all possibilities
- He didn't set a deadline, other than to say that they will not remain at the Trop when the lease expires in 2027
- He didn't mention the possibility of pulling a Huizenga and gutting the roster
- He said, repeatedly, that he expects factions in Pinellas and Hillsborough to work together as one united community
- "Baseball will not work in downtown St. Pete"
- Anybody who thinks we have 17 years to figure this out is nuts
- He didn't mention keeping the roster intact
You may believe that government is not obligated to subsidize the efforts of a private business to maximize profits, and that is certainly a valid viewpoint. However, if that's the case, you also have to admit that a private business is not obligated to operate at less than maximum profit potential for the benefit of the public.
The biggest sticking point going forward, and there are a lot of them, is how success depends on cooperation between St. Pete and Tampa, twin cities that don't usually play nice with each other as it is. St. Pete points to a signed lease and has given no indication that they might budge and Tampa's taxes for the next several years are already spent. Is it possible that by pinning the team's future on an alliance that he thinks won't happen, Sternberg is laying the foundation for a "Hey, I tried" exit strategy? Maybe. He's a smart businessman. One thing for sure, this is not going to be an easy fix.