A quick visit to Tropicana Field and the Tampa Bay market’s problems

If you’ve never visited the Tampa Bay Area and you know little about the market, you might be inclined to think that St. Petersburg is an excellent, central location to place a ballpark for the Rays. Tropicana Field is roughly 30 miles from the northern end of Pinellas and Hillsborough counties and 30 miles from Sarasota, whose separate MSA (Bradenton-Sarasota) holds another 688,000 residents. All told that 3.6 million citizens in the eight-county group is often considered a better representation of the full market than what we usually read in the media or in studies. It’s roughly 120 miles north-to-south and 50 miles east-to-west, plus the bay to displace it. By comparison, the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area is around 150 miles north-to-south and 50-70 miles east-to-west, certainly larger in area by not appreciably given the diminishing rural population at the fringes. One key difference is that the SF Bay Area has twice the population, 7.2 million. And in its oft-criticized yet mostly functional public transportation system, the San Francisco Bay Area has a secret weapon that Tampa Bay doesn’t have, one that could really help fans get to a ballpark more easily. Even if only 20% of A’s fans make it to the Coliseum via BART, having that option removes some friction because there’s always the option not to drive.

Tropicana Field looks central in this view

Tropicana Field looks central in this view

Local pols in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties are trying to put together a regional transit coalition that would widen some key bridges and construct a light rail system. Something like BART would be far too expensive in this era, which is a big reason why you see light rail being deployed in emerging metros and not electric third rail systems like BART. Even if they are successful, the place would have to become much more densely populated to properly support a major league team on a 2.5 million season attendance clip (30k/game). St. Petersburg is particularly not dense, with an area slightly 25% larger than the City of San Francisco and less than one-third SF’s population.

With so many numbers and issues swimming around in my head, I took some downtime while I was in the Tampa Bay area to properly drive around and get a feel for the market – as good as I could for several hours. I stayed a night near the St. Petersburg-Clearwater airport. The hotel was across the way from the Carillon business park, touted last year as a potential Rays ballpark site. The site was close to equidistant from downtown Tampa, St. Pete, and Clearwater, which should have made it convenient for about 2 million of the region’s population. Alas, the concept died, leaving Rays owner Stuart Sternberg still pining for Tampa and St. Pete Mayor Bill Foster shutting down any talks with the rival city.

Friday night I stayed in the Westshore area of Tampa near the airport. Westshore is at the eastern end of the Howard Frankland Bridge, the non-toll span of I-275 that carries the bulk of the traffic between Tampa and St. Pete. It’s where you can find Tampa International Airport and Raymond James Stadium. 5 miles west of downtown Tampa and Ybor City, it’s as close as you can get to being in St. Pete while actually being in Tampa. Around 5:30 I was trying to figure out what to do. The Rays were in Cleveland, and the only Florida State League team hosting a game was Dunedin, several miles north of Clearwater. A trip that normally would take 30 minutes was advertised as taking 50 minutes due to the rush hour commute, so I decided to pass. Pinellas County is notorious for having few freeways, making commutes in much of the peninsula much like crosstown commutes in San Francisco – slow and arduous. Thankfully, Cigar City Brewing was closeby so I could work on my beer appreciation.

Saturday morning I took the 20+ minute drive to Tropicana Field. Before I got there, I drove through a rather depressed neighborhood north of the stadium. Notable businesses nearby include a government health clinic, U-Haul truck center, and a strip mall with a check cashing shop and a dollar store. No event was being held at the Trop, but there were cars in the parking lot so I parked and went to the entrance to take a look.

Ebbets Field? Um, maybe not.

The security guard was nice enough to let me take a few pictures of the rotunda

Tropicana Field, formerly known as the Florida Suncoast Dome, was built without any specific guidance by a MLB team, and it shows. It opened at the end of the static dome era, a year after SkyDome (now Rogers Centre) dazzled fans with its moving roof and other technology. It has a moat around the outfield exterior and a rotunda that was added to resemble that of Ebbets Field. Sadly the rotunda looks more like a library foyer than the inspiration. It’s the main entrance to the stadium, as most of the parking is on the east side of the Trop. I couldn’t go any further than this, which is unfortunate as I would’ve like to take some new pictures of the main concourse, which reminds me of an 80’s mall arcade without the carpet.

Gate 1 at Tropicana Field

Gate 1 at Tropicana Field

Inside, Sternberg has done about as much as he could to put lipstick on this pig. There’s lots of color everywhere. Party boxes were placed down each foul line to cut into the foul territory. Astroturf was replaced by more grass-like Astroturf, which somehow looks worse on TV than the old stuff due to its weird sheen. Tarps were placed in the upper nosebleeds to reduce capacity, and like the A’s it hasn’t helped attendance. Little has worked. The atmosphere is still dreary, the catwalks still strange and frustrating. Sternberg wants out and he has reason to want out, but the alternatives are not cheap or easy. No city is going to build the Rays a ballpark for free, including cities outside the market. The team is stuck at the Trop until 2027 unless Sternberg chooses an expensive buyout after 2017. Plans to turn the Trop into a redevelopment zone have gone nowhere. The Rays are in an arguably worse position than the A’s stadium-wise, since the Rays are bound by the lease and Sternberg can’t formally speak to Tampa about new digs.

Worse, it’s easy to get the sense that as far as baseball goes, the Rays have to fight just to be recognized in the region. Despite their recent World Series appearance and multiple playoff appearances, the team has to compete with 4 Florida State League teams in the market, and the Yankees, who have a radio affiliate and their spring training facility in Tampa. Plus there are all those other Grapefruit League teams quenching any early baseball thirst in March. Maybe the Rays would have a better chance if there wasn’t as much competition. A new ballpark could help as long as the franchise wasn’t saddled with debt. No wonder then, that Bud Selig hasn’t exactly pushed hard on this one. That M.O. sounds familiar…

62 thoughts on “A quick visit to Tropicana Field and the Tampa Bay market’s problems

  1. Two big differences between Oakland and Tampa Bay ( really St Petersburg). 1: The Coliseum is a better looking facility than the ” Trop” ( particularly in the daytime). 2: The lease. Oakland’s lease is up soon enough and the Rays have to wait until 2027 ( the main reason Selig is not getting involved here). I would not want to be owning that franchise.

  2. I was at the game yesterday – one of the most-frustrating I’ve ever seen – but at least it worked out in the end. Long lines for everything; my arrival on the line to enter the stadium at 11:30 am was too late to get a Cespedes shirt. I was talking with a San Jose-based A’s fan on the 30-minutes-long Round Table pizza line who insisted the A’s have already extended their lease for five years. If he’s done his research, he should know by now that’s not the case. Yes, TB’s 15 years on its lease is a different animal than the A’s lease expiring in six months.

  3. I think. Tropicana field has nice charm. If ur a central Florida sports fan, u got the Rays, Bucs and for basketball the Orlando Magic. I do feel a little lucky and guilty that we A’s have it easier then the Rays ever getting a new stadium. It’s going to take a owner who is not scared of the Tampa pols to either move out or get support from the community.

  4. R.M.,
    Could Tropicana Field undergo a redo ala Angels Stadium? I know it would be expensive, but I’ve always wondered if they could make it a retractable roof, put real grass and completely enhance the facade/common areas. It seems like the bones of the “ballpark” are satisfactory; field layout, dugouts, sight lines.

  5. It should be noted that both the current Tampa Bay predicament, and that of the A’s are both rooted in MLB’s foolish involvement, some more than twenty years ago, in laying out the groundwork to getting ballparks built in both markets. As in the case of Tampa Bay, MLB tacitly implied to their civic leaders that if the Tampa Bay area could get a stadium built to house a Major League baseball team, they would definitely be awarded with a MLB franchise to play in that facility. Unfortunately, in the early years after the Florida Suncoast Dome was built in 1990, it was used by MLB as leverage to get new ballparks built in a number of MLB’s existing markets to replace antiquated stadiums. Tampa Bay was eventually awarded an expansion franchise in 1998.
    As in the Case of the Giants, they had requested to MLB that they reconfirm their territorial exclusivity to the South Bay, as a precondition by the Giants before the go ahead to privately build a new Giants ballpark at China Basin.
    As a result of MLB sticking their necks out to get new stadiums built in both St. Petersburg and San Francisco, we have the current mess with the Tampa Bay Rays franchise and the current in limbo stadium situation with the A’s. In both cases MlB’s commitment to the building of these two stadiums has left legal action against MLB hanging as a possibility in the event MLB relents on their prior stadium commitments. I believe it is for this reason, MLB has decided that keeping the Status quo is preferable to taking action and doing what is in the best interests of baseball.

  6. The Marlins mess has even the city of Chicago dragging their feet on improving Wrigley field. I feel the cubs will win this battle however. What is Chicago going to do? Really let the cubs go to the suburbs??? Please….Chicago knows they are going to have to pay up. I do like tony idea on the retract roof at Tropicana field. Again lucky their might be some closure at the end of the year regarding the A’s even tho I recommend they should leave the coliseum after the lease and let the Raiders have it. I push strong for the temporary Sacramento A’s unroll we know if the A’s will get the Green light on San Jose…

  7. I’m former Tampa resident and season ticket holder for the Rays. The biggest reason for the poor attendance is the stadium’s location. While the Trop is very accessible to residents of Clearwater down to Sarasota/Bradenton, the park is in a terrible location with respect to the density of the population of the region.

    Hillsborough County (where Tampa is located) is home to over 1.25 million people. It’s where the bulk of the population of the Tampa Bay region resides, yet it takes them 30 minutes to an hour to get to the park. Also, at their current location on the coast, it makes it that much more difficult for central Florida residents (i.e. greater Orlando) to make the trip. Basically, the Rays have fewer people within a short distance of their stadium than most of the league.

    For baseball to survive in the Tampa Bay region, it needs a park in Tampa.

  8. Not so sure about that llpec. The giants management is likely fibbing that they reaffirmed their so-called rights territorial rights before they built phonebooth park – they b.s. about everything else. Also, Selig would not have formed a committee to look into the A’s move to SJ. Selig would not have bothered to do that if MLB made a territorial rights agreement with the giants before they built their ballpark.

  9. @duffer,
    My thoughts exactly. Its BS that the Giants wanted Santa Clara County on lock down (reaffirmed) before they privately committed to build in SF during the mid-90’s. Makes for a good story line though. Based on the developments of the last few years, won’t matter anyway.
    If what the former Tampa resident says is true re population of the metro, then refurbishing Tropicana Field wouldn’t make $ense.

  10. @Tony D.

    From this 2009 Tampa Bay Times article (http://www.tampabay.com/news/471m-rehab-would-leave-a-subpar-tropicana-field-rays-consultant-says/1010344):

    “Even with a $471 million overhaul, complete with a retractable roof, supersized concourse and upgraded seating, Tropicana Field would remain a subpar facility with substantial design flaws, according to a Tampa Bay Rays’ consultant report released Monday.

    ‘When we got done this would be a B-, B+ type of baseball facility as opposed to, obviously, if we do a brand new ballpark, it would be an A+,’ said Joe Spears, president of Populous, a design firm hired by the Rays.”

    I would be interested to know what exactly would be “subpar” about a renovation of the Trop. Just for discussion’s sake, because obviously such a renovation is not going to happen when the cost would be nearly as much as building a whole new ballpark – extremely expensive lipstick on a pig, so to say.

  11. @duffer, The territorial rights issue by the Giants is still very much the core stumbling block to getting MLB to approve the move of the A’s to San Jose. The very fact that MLB is reluctant to grant such approval, at least until all Oakland/East Bay site proposals are fully exhausted, is enough indication that MLB had reaffirmed to the Giants their “territorial exclusivity” claims to the entire peninsula and Santa Clara County. The Giants seem to hold a claim that they would not have raised and invested all their private funds to build their China Basin ballpark, had they not received assurances from MLB that they would continue to hold exclusive territorial rights to the lucrative South Bay part of the market. Up to that time it had been rather murky about the Giants continued claims to the South Bay, given the fact that the Giants move to Santa Clara was never approved. As a result, the Giants’ home remained in San Francisco, and they never did move to Santa Clara. Therefor,without the assurances from MLB, the territorial rights issue would have been moot.

  12. The giants mgt. has squawked about their territorial rights and that they were supposedly re-affirmed. Selig has never made those type of statements though. If the situation was such a slam-dunk that the giants suggest, Selig wouldn’t have formed the committee. Also, Selig wouldn’t have set guidelines the the A’ move. As Tony D. suggests, the territorial rights are likely a mute point now anyways.

    Furthermore, MLB rules are not actual legislation, the giants so-called territorial rights can be overturned by MLB as easily as they were awarded, they are not written in stone, and whoever is more effective in playing politics with Selig (The A’s or Giants) will win. It appears the A’s have been winning the battle of attrition though.

  13. @JL,
    Excellent find! So much for the rehab idea.
    It got no coverage, but in Wolffs latest interview with the SV Biz Journal, he alluded to the fact that “baseball” (obviously the MLB committee) couldn’t even find a solution in Alameda County for an A’s ballpark.. Also (and I’ve stated this before), the Giants haven’t barked territorial exclusivity over SC/SJ in over a year. See RM’s post from January on Baer’s “softening” position re the A’s and San Jose. Selig and the committee have obviously spoken on where they want the A ‘s; all that’s left is the deal and for San Jose to get its land act together. Having somewhere to play for the next five years would help as well…

  14. Tony D, thanks for the SV Business Journal mention. Having missed it (if RM posted it I missed it here too) I looked it up and read it just now. It’s short and simply reaffirms previous words/stories that (a) The A’s as well as MLB cannot identify a workable/successful site in Alameda County (b) Oakland put forth no plan (c) he will be to the end a good member of MLB — Litigation is completely off the table (d) SJ leaders are in good standing with him (e) The media remains of the mind that the monstrously lengthy delay in a decision must mean LW is wavering or even leaning towards giving up.
    Nothing new at all. How much of it is bravado or tailored for public consumption is speculation. What makes me shake my head is the 9 comments below the article. They are entirely, save one, the far too often typical dishonest and emotional outbursts from the Oakland only crowd. LW is a horrible man/worst owner there is, he really is the only problem with the A’s(not the stadium), business goes without mention and the A’s must simply stay put, Oakland leadership remains unscathed, SJ is very unworthy (among other things) of a pro MLB team…..etc. I understand a pro team leaving will evoke visceral reactions and gamesmanship is part of the process. Yet I will never get how people can type such conspicuous dishonesty and press send. I guess I am far too naive…..

  15. @RM,
    thanks for referencing that thread on a possible Tropicana redo; totally missed that one. Wondering if it would be cheaper to add a roof structure to Tropicana similar to what was proposed for the Rays waterfront ballpark (?).

  16. @Tony D, I sure hope you are correct that the Giants have backed off on their so called “territorial rights” issue. I’m just skeptical with all the delay, secrecy, and the lack of transparency coming out of Selig’s office.

  17. The Giants territorial rights thing stands probably because San Jose’s ballpark proposal still is pretty weak:
    * No public money for the stadium itself (which gives San Jose no advantage over Oakland, which also can’t pay for a ballpark)
    * Only about 40% of the ballpark site is in the city’s hands.
    * A public referendum looks like it will be required, bringing out the usual NIMBYs, etc.
    What San Jose has over Oakland is a corporate-rich environment that can privately fund a ballpark, and a legitimate, albeit-not-fully-assembled, downtown site. From what I understand, Oakland’s best site was jettisoned by Jerry Brown, who wanted nothing to do with a downtown ballpark. What a genius. Let’s hope he doesn’t end up governor again or something.

  18. PJK, Don’t forget that the A’s SJ ballpark will be 100% privately funded – no taxpayer subsidies ever have been requested or needed to build it. Also, The A’s can easily acquire the remaining land with eminent domain, and the A’s will fund the cost of the remaining land parcels if San Jose won’t.

    Furthermore, SJ residents have seen how the Sharks and the arena have placed San Jose on the map as a major city and boosted San Jose’s downtown. We now know that an A’s ballpark could do even more. (Unlike when SJ voters wisely rejected the giants plan to move here – before the arena was built) Also, the ballpark won’t cost local taxpayers a dime. So that should be enough to overcome some giant fans and property owners residing near the ballpark site who might say no to the referendum.

  19. @pjk
    I don’t think its fair San Jose gets a free stadiaum over Oakland….but I understand that if u were to build on ur own dime, u have a better chance getting ur investment back in san Jose then Oakland, (even though I’m skeptical)…but I’m not lew Wolff. The reason why I want the A’s outta the coliseum so the raiders can have it.

    I have a question pjk…what will happen if MLB sits on their hands again after 2013, what should the A’s do???

  20. Duffer: And what do Bud and the Lodge think of privately funded ballparks? They don’t like ’em for a second. Didn’t MLB hold out for Washington, DC to fund “three-thirds” of the ballpark instead of the proposed two-thirds?…standfor: These are the breaks. The weak corporate environment in the East Bay has not sustained the existing baseball and football teams in Oakland. All I needed to do was look at all the empty luxury suites at the Coliseum two days ago – cheap, available, empty. And we also have the experience of the Raiders’ PSL and luxury suite debacle (unable to lease these suites at what the rest of the league charges) vs. the 49ers experience in Santa Clara, where PSLs, etc are flying out the door…re: Post-2013. If Selig continues to do what he’s done so far, as in nothing at all, I suppose the status quo remains, unless Oakland and the A’s can’t agree to a new lease agreement, in which the A’s could temporarily find themselves at Raley Field, I suppose. MLB can’t take too kindly to the Coliseum authority trying to gouge the A’s on a new lease when the team is heavily subsidized by MLB to begin with. Oakland gets Major League Baseball at a below-market rate and wants to extract major concessions from this revenue-sharing recipient franchise?

  21. Oakland should not build a new park for that whacko Mark Davis.

  22. Of course, the no-brainer would be for Oakland to build a downtown ballpark for the A’s: Make the downtown a happening place like what ATT Park done in Frisco, etc. But there’s no sites left in Oakland, apparently, and no public money either. All Oakland has offered is the same ‘ol Coliseum parking lot and the problem-plagued, non-starter Howard Terminal site. But I don’t think Oakland can get away with giving any $$ to the Raiders either, who’d need twice $$ as the A’s for a new stadium that would be used 1/8th the the amount of time as a new A’s stadium. Just look at Quan giving out those A’s and Raiders signs not long after that high-level meeting with the NFL. Chances are, the NFL proposed some financial requirements for Oakland and the city just can’t meet any of them. Hundreds of millions for a football stadium in a city that has about 1,000 more pressing priorities? I don’t see it happening.

  23. The idea that anyone is getting a free stadium is somewhat ludicrous. The idea is to answer the question “does the city/county government pay for any of it?” with as close to a “no” as possible. It’s not like Lew Wolff is putting 20% on a mortgage as if this was a house. That’s not what the Giants did in San Francisco. The costs were borne by fans and local corporations, funneled through the Giants, who then took out a loan for close to 50% of the project.
    I, as an A’s fan, am going to pay for some portion of a new stadium anywhere in the Bay Area and it is going to be funneled through the A’s. I am going to buy a season ticket package that may, or may not, include a Stadium Builder’s License. The difference between San Jose and Oakland is that there are several very large companies that have pledged to support the construction of the stadium via ticket purchases, sponsorships and naming rights in San Jose. In Oakland, this does not exist (at least not in a public way). In Oakland, you have Don Knauss and roughly a dozen companies pledging to support a project that is still very undefined and in an undefined way (an example of this is Cisco pledging naming rights in San Jose, who is doing the same in Oakland? No one that we know of). That’s not nearly enough to fund a $500M stadium project.
    I, as a tax payer in Alameda County, do not support the Raiders, A’s or Warriors getting a subsidy from me (and my neighbors) to carry out what is a private enterprise that benefits the community in no tangible way. The positive economic impact of a stadium is temporary, in terms of construction jobs, and not break even, in terms of jobs created at the stadium.
    I am thankful that this Bay Area is a place that has proven it can privately finance stadium construction in a way that the Tampa Bay Area cannot.

  24. damn Jeff. As a tax payer I would be glad to help the Raiders, A’s and or Warriors build a stadium in Oakland. Its people like u that are going to get the Raiders and A’s out the bay area. A’s and raiders do give back to the community and have many programs that help children and familys. But when they ask for helpall of a sudden we have better things to spend money on???? Jeff, cmon that is weak.

    U should really join our cause in Coliseun City…if everybody political, private and public (us) are willing to PAY for coliseum city yo become REAL. Even ml would agree it can work for everybody. Cmon Jeff I expect a little more open minded from u

  25. By 2027, I think they’ll have a plan in place to build a retractable roof, two-deck, state-of-the-art 34Kish facility in Montreal that doubles as a world-class concert venue.

    That builds an AL East Canadian rivalry with Tor, consolidates travel for the entire AL East significantly, and perhaps even improves the demand for Spring Training baseball in that region, which is starting to suffer due to saturation. (several teams have left Florida for Arizona in the last decade).

    Maybe the A’s will finally have a new stadium by then, too. 🙂

  26. Coliseum City is an invitation for the teams to build their own stadiums at the Coliseum parking lot, a site already rejected by MLB. There’s no taxpayer dollars being offered to pay for these stadiums, with the implications that the teams have to take all the risks. So far, the A’s have expressed no interest, the Warriors already have one foot out the door and the Raiders are stalled. It’s one thing to tell the A’s “Build your own stadium!” It’s quite another to tell them, “Build your own stadium and you have to build it right here, whether you make your investment back or not.” And is there a demand for this office space being proposed at Coliseumn City or does that sit there empty?

  27. Aaron, respectfully, learn how to read. I will pay for it directly myself. There have been many studies on the economic impact of stadiums and sport franchises. None fo them agree with what you are saying.

  28. Actually most people agree with me. Come to Concord California. But ur not ur irrelevant…again its people like U (Jeffery) that are going to get the A’s and Raiders outta the bay. And i personally take offense to it.

  29. Wow, Aaron. You are acting quite ignorant. There is a difference in having the county population pay taxes and assume the risk to fund some rich guy’s playground, and another thing having the rich guys take the risk and be forced to put out a good product to get a return on their investment.

    I don’t know what Mark Davis wants, but Lew Wolff hasn’t asked for a handout.

    BTW, have fun paying off the rest of the cost of Mount Davis after the Coliseum is torn down.

  30. @ standforcoliseumcity Aaron: I highly recommend spending less time preaching opinions, and more time trying to understand this whole situation with a cool head. Truth is, every has opinions and they all mean jack squat. The resolution of this A’s situation will be determined by the primal forces of business and reality. It’s every tax payers duty to ensure their civic leaders spend wisely and only when they have to.

  31. No Aaron most people do not agree with you, which is why no politician in oakland or anywhere else in California is proposing building publicly-funded stadia for any pro teams. Other cities and states still allow themselves to be blackmailed into doing this, with mostly regret and embarrassment after the fact

  32. I’m going to remember u Tim, especially on this site the day all the sports teams leave.

    Something tells me Tim,Briggs and lonestranger were sent by the SF Giants to post on this site. Why dont u guys put on ur orange and black and jump off the new bridge. I reallt take offense to what u said. Ur telling me that we (taxpayer’s) should not contribute to a new stadium? That is insane….

  33. Heh. This guy needs a civic lesson.

  34. I see we are back on the pros and negative cons of building a public financed stadium. We all know that they are a drain on public resources that would be better served by paying off existing debt, police, schools, etc. I think I posted earlier that the lone exception would be Cowboy Stadium that actually generates enough revenue year round to justify it’s cost. If I am not mistaken it will be paid off before Mt Davis.

    As much as I like travelling to Oakland on my west coast trips to see the A’s play I feel some year they should be allowed to move to SJ for the long term viability of the team. History has shown that Oakland can not support crowds of 2-3 million a year that is needed to attract top tier free agents or the A’s ability to re-sign it’s players to long term contracts especially with idiot team like the Dodgers, Yankees, and Angels driving up the market for FAs.

    SJ is the last untapped major sports market left in the US. Who would have thought 20 years ago that it would become a hockey town, and have the ability to host and sell out regional NCAA games. I am sure it could support either the A’s or the Raiders or all three teams with the corporate revenue in the area.

    Even if Coliseum City gets off the ground who is going to pay for it? The 1 Billion dollar price tag alone on top of the billion plus debt that Oakland currently has would burden the county and city for the next couple hundred years.

    As for the Rays I would love to see them move to Montreal, North Carolina, or Tampa and get out of the Trop. Too bad St Pete has an iron clad lease on the team. ML hit the nail on the coffin pointing out why baseball in central Fl is doomed. Hopefully the Rays continue to do what they are doing for the next 12 years and remain one of the top teams in the AL.

    I have a feeling that we won’t see a verdict on the A’s until after Selig retires on 2014. He does not have the balls like David Stern to do what is for the best of the game.

  35. Fine you guys win…..(this time) know I know how public funded stadiums work 🙂 (Sesame Street Music)

    The A’ s are playing very well lately…starting to see a lot more A’s pride in the east bay, kids and couples wearing casual A’s shirts…good sign…

  36. @SFCCA,
    In the South Bay as well..Go A’s!

  37. The Rays are stuck in mud and Bud Selig knows it. Part of his legacy was to get every team a new or renovated stadium under his watch. He has succeeded except for Oakland and Tampa Bay.

    I believe that Selig knows he cannot complete his goal because of Tampa Bay being stuck in a lease until 2027. So Selig is content to let the A’s rot and let the next guy decide what to do.

    Selig’s term ends in 2014 and he already shot down a contract extension (thank god) as he plans to retire.

    The A’s will continue in limbo until Selig leaves office and a new commissioner is appointed.

    Why would Selig at this point do anything when he does not have to? It has been his M.O. his entire career when it the face of adversity.

    As for Tampa, they need to move across the Bay. They are in the worst part of the market in terms of population and sponsors. They are the A’s east coast version with the exception of an iron clad lease.

  38. i hear nominate alderson to be the next commish of baseball. we all remember how he dealt with the ump situation back in the 90s, pretty sure he’ll make a decision rather soon regarding sj and territorial rights.

  39. “As much as I like travelling to Oakland on my west coast trips to see the A’s play I feel some year they should be allowed to move to SJ for the long term viability of the team. History has shown that Oakland can not support crowds of 2-3 million a year that is needed to attract top tier free agents or the A’s ability to re-sign it’s players to long term contracts especially with idiot team like the Dodgers, Yankees, and Angels driving up the market for FAs.”

    Not many markets can draw 2-3 mil consistently in a crappy 50 year old stadium. No reason to think SJ would do any better than oakland in this regard. SJ has the corporate base to make a privately-financed stadium more feasible than in oakland, but if a beautiful nice new waterfront stadium were to somehow get built in oakland, the fans would certainly come.

  40. @Tim,
    You pretty much nailed it with that last paragraph. Its getting the PRIVATELY FINANCED ballpark built in the Bay Area. In that regard say hello to $J and $V!
    Really miss reading your world view on this entire situation (sarcasm). So enlighten us; why won’t Selig make a “decision” now? (This ought to be good…)

  41. @letsgoas- like your idea of alderson for commish. Given that he is a historian on granting TR to the gints and understands the demographics of the Bay Area I am sure he would remedy the situation quickly. He has already said there should have been a requirement to build to keep the rights-

  42. SJ gives the Sharks outstanding support, Tim. The team has sold out all their home games for 10 + consecutive years. Also, The NCAA hoops tourney uses San Jose frequently because of the solid fan support from SJ (not SF or Oakland)San Jose seems to consistently sell out the NCAA games, unlike most cities that host them. The A’s would likely draw well here also. Besides, who needs a clone of the gnats ballpark? – no thank you. If the A’s were to remain in Oakland they need to build somewhere else (the Coliseum parking lot would be much preferred than a Howard Terminal location (less costly also)

  43. alderson years ago said one of the biggest regrets he had after he left the a’s were not to put in some clause that if no park was built in sj the territorial rights would go back to what they were.

    no doubt he’d be the a’s bigger supporter in getting the territorial rights to the south bay back to where they befere which is why i would seriously be estatistic if he were named commish.

    any ideas whom could be the next commish? can’t be another owner that the rest of the “lodge” decides to put in there. i’d guess it’ll be one of the people under butthead in the mlb front offices. i know the name of costas has been thrown out there by some but that’s a pipe dream.

  44. @ Tim – Kevin Johnson and Sacramento send their warmest regards.

  45. And warriors have always sold well in Oakland. Sharks doing well doesn’t prove anything vis a vis the A’s

  46. @all,
    I’m the biggest SJ supporter there is, but I’m gonna have to defend Tim on this one. The Sharks do great in DTSJ, but all those fans who pack The Tank just don’t reside in SJ; they come from the greater South Bay, southern Alameda Co, Tri-Valley as well as the Peninsula up to SF. If the A’s had built a ballpark at Uptown, or built a new yard at the Coliseum, as long as they were winning the place would be packed.
    Again, its all about getting that yard built, and the A’s will soon find the way to $J!

  47. C’mon Tim history is on my side, even when the A’s had a brand new park 45 years ago the place was not packed. The only long term viability for the team is to move away from SF and into the South Bay.

    Unless the city, the owners, and company like AEG or MSG are willing to partner up and build a stadium somewhere, Oakland will become a minor league city.

  48. Even when the Coliseum was considered state-of-the-art, attendance was usually lousy. Compare that to the Sharks – selling out for years and years for team that’s never won anything and plays a sport still pretty foreign to most in the Bay Area. Oakland has had 44+ years to adore the A’s and hasn’t done so. More seasons in the playoffs than in the top half of attendance league-wide.

  49. I do wonder whats going to happen to A Rod and others that got caughtup in the ped case in Miami. That is why baseball is so un fun. It’s nothing but a ped witch hunt. I miss the summer of 98 with McGuire and Sosa homerun battle. I miss seeing prominent African american players in MLB. I think baseball is trying to destroy itself and I think the hypocrisy needs to stop before we all stop watching

  50. @Tony D. & others,

    I think what this debate essentially boils down to is whether or not we believe in the mantra, “If you build it, they will come.” Sometimes I wonder what the state of the A’s would be right now had the Uptown site been built: Would we be on par with the Giants across the Bay, amassing sellout crowds night after night… or would we be in the same boat with other teams like Baltimore, Cleveland, or Washington – winning teams with new state-of-the-art ballparks, but struggling to draw at the gate?

    It seems that whenever people point out things like historical attendance records or corporate support to argue against an Oakland ballpark, they’re not just arguing about the feasibility of constructing a stadium in Oakland, but that the city as a market cannot FUNDAMENTALLY support the team in the long-term. Now, I’m sure we can all agree (at least, those of us who are rational and willing to set aside biases for the moment) that financing a ballpark in Oakland, or SJ for that matter, is alot harder today than it would’ve been a decade ago when the Uptown site was proposed. But let’s just say Uptown had happened, or that the political and economic hurdles that Oakland faces today in getting a ballpark built did not exist – Would still Oakland be a viable place for baseball?

    I for one believe so.

  51. @jl,
    I agree with you (I think). Again, if miraculously an Oakland ballpark appeared at Uptown or JLS, it would be packed as long as the A’s were winning. Again, this all boils down to two things:
    1) getting said ballpark built.
    2) what MLB has decided re the long term future of baseball in the Bay Area. If recent quotes from Wolff are any indication, MLB is set to “reset” the Bay Area and put its franchises in the region two largest cities, nicely spaced 40 miles apart.
    The long term future of baseball in the Bay Area, not the past..

  52. @JL
    If Victory Court had happended I think it would be a successful for both the As and Oakland… it also depends on what free agents we would get and re sign our own plaYERS back then, but for the most part yeah…

    Loook at our A’s now 35-25 right on the heels of Texas (chuckle)and preety much a ok start for a team that is following a exciting season-playoff run, that is why the A’s are coming back because it first time we are consistent. Can u imagine this in a new ballpark in SJ or Oak… I don’t think the SF giants would have ever exsisted… its time Oakland start outsmarting San Francisco… did anybody read the si story on 2011 that the Raiders wanted Colin Kapernick.. somehow the 49ers found out and stole him??? I mean when is Oakland going to get it.

  53. Slight OT – I’m in DC now on an East Coast business trip from Boston to Raleigh (by car). I know many note how DC / Batimore are seperate media markets, however if u actually make the trek, they seem to be just one shared market with one on the northern end and the other at the bottom. Distance was quite short, even moreso than SF to SJ. I still strongly believe that the Nats move has already set the precedent in terms of TR compensation/implications.

  54. i went to those meetings at oakland city hall during the spring of 2002 i think when the cit of oak hired the hok arch/design firm who presented their options and named uptown as the best site. too bad politically with brown and the a’s brass themselves had no interets. imo once that uptown plan failed, it basically put the the a’s staying in oakland on life support and over a decade since, i think the plug is finally going to get pulled with the a’s by decade’s end likely going to play for the next 4-5 decades in sj in a state of the art new baseball only park.

    i wonder if the raiders hadn’t come back to oakland and the whole mt davis mess wouldn’t have happened, whether the city of oakland and or alameda county would be more receptive to a new oakland park. had the raiders not return the coliseum over the past 17 or 18 years would’ve remained a solid park, def be more pleasing to go attend baseball games with the open view beyond the of then it has been staring at that monster of a cement structure starting in 96-97. also could’ve seen the a’s owners whoever they were upgrade the park over the years but in the end the a’s still would’ve needed to move out of the coliseum eventually and without that massive debt on mt davis, though the arena debt that occurred later in the 90s would still be hanging over the head of the city and taxpayers, i think people in the east bay would be more receptive in spending money on building a new park. citizens of oakland in particular aren’t exactly afraid to tax themselves if it benefits the city, they did pass with an 80% approval of a 200 million measure back in the early 2000s, measure was to improve the area around lake merritt that finally was finished not too long ago. wonder if such a project with a park somewhere in downtown/waterfront would’ve had a similar type backing especially after those first few years of seeing the success that at&t brought across the bay.

  55. RM,
    OT as well: are you going to have any thoughts on San Jose’s “new” SAP Center?

  56. My take on SAP Center is that it makes it even less likely that Larry Ellison buys a basketball team to move them into the arena.

  57. wonder why hp decided it wanted out of the naming rights to the “shark tank”.

    i don’t how likely oracle will continue the naming rights with the arena in oakland either especially if/when the w’s move.

  58. also will the arena in oakland get a new naming rights deal if/when the w’s leave? didn’t have one from 97 after the renovation job was finished until 2006 to get oracle to finally put a corporate name on the arena and that was with a basketball team having 41 home dates there to help promote the venue of the name.

    is any corporation going to pay to lend their name to the arena if there is no pro team playing within it.

    the deal with oracle was 10 years so it ends in 2016?

  59. @LS–the deal is for 5 years–that wouldn’t keep LE from buying a franchise and moving it if one came available–but given that Seattle is next in line I don’t see it happening unless Sacto fails to build an arena

    regarding why HP wanted out–they continue to suffer with declining revenues and outdated product lines. The only way they had a positive report is buy cutting expenses to match the declining revenues–as they continue to look for ways to cut costs this was one small item which their board felt was a luxury in light of their current situation

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