Results tagged ‘ Las Vegas ’

Minor League Problems in 2009?

 

Minor League
baseball has always been the bread and butter of the major leagues. They help
support and replenish the league with players and coaches, and even bring about
change in promotions and in-game entertainment. So why is it in 2009, we might
see a huge reduction in minor league activities at our local ballparks? Is the
culprit the economy that is forcing the major league big clubs to scale back a
down flow of capital, or is it a sign of the time that when the economy is
slacking, so will the attendance at the lower levels of
baseball.

If you take a
brisk walk from the lavish suites of the Las Vegas epicenter of baseball
centered at the famed Bellagio hotel, where major league baseball executives and
agents  haggle and discuss multimillion-dollar contracts for players. You will
find another much more nervous group of baseball officials and job seekers
gathered around just looking for answers and promises for the upcoming 2009
minor league seasons.


 

At the Winter Meetings edition of the  minor league job fair and trade
show, the topic on many minds is the floundering and unstable economy, which
will be  expected to have a far more economical effect on baseball’s lower
levels than on the major leagues. Many minor league teams are searching for
creative ways to save  revenue and venue money but keep loyal fan bases’
heading out to their ballparks, and  current baseball experienced job seekers
are finding few openings. Some of the cost-saving measures will affect  the fans
in the long run, and others will reach out into the confines of the field.


Take for example, the St. Louis Cardinals’ entire minor league system,
where many of the teams’  players will be issued and will wear last year’s
uniforms. Buddy Bates, the  Cardinals minor league equipment  manager, said it
was difficult to find items to cut on the field because the teams still needed
catcher’s equipment, helmets and baseballs. But, he said, reusing uniforms was
something his organization could get away with. Uniform repairs cost will soar
in 2009, and with that fact, the teams’  seamstress  might be kept busier in
2009 repairing pants  than in stitching on players names on their jerseys.
Patches might be  the order of the day on pants and knee areas for the entire
minor league system.


 

 



Many other  minor league organizations have come to the same conclusion,
said Mike Gentz, the team uniforms promotion manager for Wilson Sporting Goods.
But will the lean times and reduced money flowing downhill from the Parent clubs
be enough to evoke cost saving measure early in the season. Or will the club
just start the season on a cost-conscious budget and  take a ‘wait and see’
attitude into the early stages of the upcoming seasons. And why is the uniforms
being the first thing cut in a time of crisis?

Most teams have upgraded or even done huge replacements on their uniforms
yearly, but this year  that number might be a bit scaled back until the true
number begin to hit the turnstiles of the stadiums.  You can bet at the major
league level, the cost cutting will not be as visible as in the minors,but will
it is not nearly as much enforced early in the minor league programs. Getz said
he has a talked to 15 to 20 team
representatives, and most were going to try
to just fill in a few standard things, but most have expressed a need to try
and reuse their old uniforms.”



Some teams
needing new ones, Gentz said, have decided against the traditional jerseys with
the logo sewn on the front. Instead, they have chosen a less expensive option in
which the team logo is pressed onto the jerseys, like a promotion T-shirt, or
jersey that used to be propelled into the stands with an air cannon in the
past.
“You can’t
notice it unless you are up close,” Gentz said. “It saves anywhere from a third
to half the cost.”


Teams are looking beyond uniforms for savings. One of the greatest
additions in recent years to the minor league experience, has been the upgrades
in in-game entertainment and stadium participation events. The Round Rock
Express, the Houston Astros’ Class AAA affiliate, has often bought or produced
yearly in-game entertainment features for fans from one season to the next. In
2009, however, the team plans to run the same video entertainment on the
outfield screen between innings.


That might include the same cap shuffle video instead of changing the
whole thing, like they have done in years past.  Most of these changes might
seem a bit subtle, but they do add up in the course of the season. Most teams
might not  redo their entire in-game system, but will strategically change their
entertainment. Even the action of maybe renting more of their inflatable things
will move in the right direction to show a decrease in spending and save more
traditional things, like a fireworks event during the season.

Because many teams at the lower levels of minor league baseball
played
their last games in late summer, they had not yet experienced  any type of brunt
from economic downturn. Since Sept. 1, the Dow
Jones industrial average has
dropped close to 25 percent, and the broader economic outlook for next year has
worsened by the day. Even with promises of economical upswings in the early
parts of 2009, it will take some time for any effects or upswings to hit the
minor league system, and  any upward move in revenues might not be felt by the
smaller clubs until 2010.

 

                               

 

 

At this years Minor League job fair, prospects seemed bleak for a
chance of landing  a good job with full benefits.  Most of the young turks
paid $225 to register for the fair, which helps them put their respective
résumés in front of minor and major league officials.  It seemed that in 2007,
at the same meetings in Nashville, Tennessee there were a lot more jobs and
a fewer people seeking the positions. Even jobs in ticket sales have been scaled
back in anticipation of financial downward spirals.



Broadcasting has always been a cherry position to acquire in the minor
leagues. In recent years, the broadcasting industry had more money flowing
through it, and few applicants for the positions. But now, the jobs are
considered seasonal, and benefits are also being pulled back to ensure financial
stability. So in 2009, you might get a coveted gig on the mic at one of the
ballparks, but it will most likely be only a 7-month position, and you will need
to seek a job for the other 5 months of the year.



A weak
economy is harder the lower you go on the ladder in the minor leagues. Most
teams survive on yearly budgets ranging from $3 million to $10 million, and have
relied heavily on companies like car dealerships to buy advertising and
sponsorships.
  Because of
the uneasiness in the auto industry right now, such sponsorships will be hard to
come by in 2009. More creativity will be needed to close deals with sponsors,
and multi-sponsoring events might become a great trend in the coming year.



 

 

 


To be able to
diversify sponsorship dollars among multiple sponsors might be able to bring
back some of the past years events, but might also limit other activities at the
ballparks. A great idea by one club in Minnesota is to pay $6,000 for an
inflatable jersey to use for in-game and promotional events, but to include a
velcro strip area on the jerseys front area to be able to use multiple logos, or
even seperate logos at events througout the year.



That would
save money, and also use creative measures to ensure sponsors are included at
their own events, and can be changed for every other events without huge cost to
the team. But will the economical downfall also be a time where sponsors who
might be making money hoard their resources and not even renew past contracts
with teams in spite of increased revenues. Will the influx of hard luck financial
stories be a catalyst for some sponsors as a excuse to pull
out.



Or will the
increase in gas prices and costs be a move for more people to go to local
ballparks instead of spending more money attending major league events and game
during 2009. Could being affordable or even a local option increase the people
walking through the turnstiles at minor league parks in 2009. By and far, the
minor league product is cheaper and more economical than attending a game at the
major league level. From ticket prices to concessions, the public get a better
deal at the minor league parks.



But will that
lead to concessions having a reduced price menu, or even a selected priced
location to get deals or even a series of deals within the confines of the
ballpark.  But in the end, the teams might just take the low road when it comes
to concessions ans offer a small portion, or even a smaller size to try and
eliminate the food costs and also help portion control issues.  Could last years
french fries  portion of 6 ounces be downsized to an economical 5 ounces this
year, or maybe the size of the stadium staple hot dog might be  a little
smaller, but still priced fairly reasonable.


 

 


Teams will
have to cut corners somewhere. The food courts and the food concessions is an
easy area to fulfill economical upside without throwing a lot of attention to the
plight. All I know is that in 2009, my hot dog will still be hot, my beer will
still be cold, and the sun will feel warm on my face when I hit those afternoon
games at Brighthouse Networks Field to watch the Florida State League Clearwater
Threshers.


New York, New York in Las Vegas, Vegas

 

                           

 

 

The MLB Winter Meetings 2008 are now up and running, both Yankees head honcho Hank Steinbrenner and Met’s guru Omar Minaya are hunting for big game and will be seen all over the Las Vegas strip in small cubbieholes and behind the green curtain at your favorite steakhouse looking for that prized piece to their team’s puzzle. It is interesting that the meetings are in Vegas, not for the show and the flash, but for the bet big or leave philosophy.

 

And these two teams are the optimus primes of the 2009 seasons. People come to the city in the desert for different reasons, to make it big on the Strip, combine their luck with some skill to gain some cold hard cash, or maybe even leave with a prize beyond beliefs. Whatever your reason to come to the neon city, sometime what you do in Vegas can haunt you an entire season. And during the next several days, both these men will try and hone, piece together and ride the winning team to their goals. Or will both of them crap out and go home losers? That is doubtful, but this city can turn dreams in dust as fast as a roll of the dices.

 

 

 

Vegas has never been known as poor mans’ town. Not even in the early days of the Flamingo Hotel and the Golden Nugget did the town have a soft spots for losers or the weakly-rich. It is a town built on the riches of others and is not a forgiving town in the least. Wealth has always been thrown around the strip either for power or control. This years MLB Winter Meetings will  not  be any different.

 

The  filthy rich are throwing contracts at the  player du jour like a man with a gambling problem. Two of the biggest bets this season are pitchers’  C C Sabathia and Francisco Rodriquez. Both are considered the “aces” for both of the New York teams’ folly into the neons lights of Vegas. Both can either make the town smile or leave everyone in the state of disbelief that baseball fails to secure the prizes for the city. This is not to discount the power-hitters like Mark Teixiera or Raul Ibanez, or even shove under the table any discussions about them. But these two pitchers are the “make ot or break it” commodities of the two New York franchises.

 

Alot of poker is left to play in the Hot Stove season. Pots are boiling all over the place and people are starting to ladle out their favorites and make moves to secure their new seasons. After these two high end players either get signed or walk away from the tables, the rest of the cards will fall into place around the league. The benchmark salaries or contracts might be sitting in a Las Vegas hotel right now gaining dust or being prodded like cattle to search for loopholes or advantages. The next few days are critical for baseball, becuase as soon as the big boys leave the tables, the rest of the teams will put in their antes and see what they can get for their money.

 

 

                           

 

 

To say that whoever brings joy to the New Yorks’ will need al least a Brinks truck or a few Pinkerton guy’s to help them out of town. But would be an insult to the fabric that made Vegas a dreamers’ town if neither team got there man here, but in the works a contract or deal within the cinfines of the Bellagio Resort area.  But who out of the two giants in the Big Apple  will come away with what prize , and what price? 

 

Who will bet it all hoping for magic, and who will go home with their tails between their legs?  That will be a huge 2009 story, and it is so early in the game. Who has the guts and confidence to twist the hands of fate to the extreme  and test their will against the odds. Or who is winning to throw the dice and hope their number comes up with all their money on the table? This might be the true story of the next 4 days in the desert.

 

 

                             

 

Both teams’ might come home with a fortune in talent and could bankroll a great advantage going into the new season. The American League East will again be a 4-man race until someone seperates themselves from the pack and takes over that division. The Yankees do not want to be the team looking up at three teams again this season, and might make significant moves to illustrate their desire to agin be the top dog not only in the league, but in the city. The Mets on the other hand are in the division with the current World Series Champions. All they have to do is talk to the Rays players about the  stigma attached to chasing and passing the 2008 kings and gaining control, in the National League East race.

 

Both the Yankees and Mets have high hopes for these meetings, and both bolster full confidence they will come away as winners when all is said and done. Most of this bravado might be a illustration of the city’s personality and it’sinternational state of confidence, they get what they want, and then go on and conquer. That might have been the mindset in the past, but in today’s culture and today’s baseball, the best do not always rise to the top. Just because you spend in the 100′s of millions doesn’t even guarantee you a playoff spot in today’s parity league. To be the king of the hill, you have to remain consistant, which neither have done for years in their respective leagues.

 

Both teams have sparkling new stadiums that need to be filled nightly for there to be any signs of financial rewards and playoff glory again in the city,  I would honestly expect the Yankees to be the ones to put it all on black and try and pull out a near miracle to gain some face-time and again become the franchise to fear in the near future.

 

The Yankees have not had fate on their side the last few seasons. The team is in the payroll penthouse area, but almost slipped to the American League East basement last year with injuries and assorted offensive mis-alignments.  If not for a late season splurge, they might have fallen below the lowly Baltimore Orioles for 5th in the AL East. And that is not the place for a team spending money the way the Yankees have for the last 5 years. As Janet Jackson says in her song “What have you done for me lately?”

 

 

                             

 

To say it can not happen in 2009 would be an understatement. George Steinbrenner finally passed the mantel to his older son, and we are going to see if the elder Steinbrenner got any of Dad’s genes when it comes to building a competitive network and administering a firm hand on the roster.  “Big H” has to have all the cards and gamble his finest china to get the prizes of this years free agent crop. The prize knows his intentions and has already voiced a few odd comments to maybe put up a bluff before finally going for all the cash and playing in the Big Apple. But sometimes people do things for reasons other than money, so Sabathia might just go the “better judgement” route and not only stunn the NY crowd, but the nation as a whole.

 

After losing two starting pitchers, one to arrogance and the other to retirement, and maybe losing a vital cog in right-field, “Big H” has to toss the bones like a gambling’ whale and show the money or leave the Vegas strip as a loser going into Spring Training. The Yankees might have already played their first hand giving their top prize,  C C Sabathia their first offer, but you can be sure that this deal, if it interests the big guy will take a bit to complete. they might get a hand shake out of it all, but at this junction of the season, that can make the difference between night and day for a team.  A funny comment out of the Sabathia camp says the big guy hated Spring Training in Florida while he was with the Cleveland Indians, that might be a small cog in the road, but sometimes a better organization can mend that fence without too many problems.

 

The Mets on the otherhand, might have  a few  face cards up their own sleeves. They have already shown pitchers’ like K-Rod and Brian Fuentes that they have both the money and the reserved parking  spot for them just waiting for their signatures. The check waiting for the new closer of the Mets will have a few zeros behind it, and might even be the biggest payday of their career if they played their own cards right. 

 

 And with an offense that drawfs the Yankees squads, the Mets might have the leg up in the Big City. And with their own new sparkling stadium going up, they also have to win big now and secure some of the best talent to showcase their new digs. These two might not be the only high cost hauls of the Mets at the meetings, but it would be a nice centerpeice to showcase their new digs to have a starter who can command the game, and a closer who can execute with the best of them on board.

 

With the starter in mind, there are many floating on rafts  on the poolsides in Vegas waiting for a call from Minaya wanting to speak to them about a New York opportunity. The starting pitcher situation is actually alot cloudier than the closer or even right-field positions, becuase until the first few are off the board, the pecking order is out of kilter and might need to be rearranged by a Met’s signing. Do not be surprised if a name like Oliver Perez, or maybe even Edwin Jackson becomes the 5th starter for the Mets and outperforms the some of the best in the game.

 

 

 

Both teams have also selected  secondary targets who would be great prizes to obtain during the meetings, but might not be considered the “house favorites” right now.  The Mets have also set up back-up plans into effect if K-Rod decides to take his toys and go home without a Mets contract in hand. The team has also begun preliminary talks with Fuentes and wily veteran Trevor Hoffman for the vacant closers’ role. Both might not be the top shelf potential the Mets seek, but both have experience and might come at a discount considering the asking price of K-Rod services. Bott also might be a economical move as sure bargains considering the financial climate of  America and baseball. Another name that will be circling the shark tank is ex-Cubbie, Kerry Wood. He might have a busy week in Las Vegas shaking hands and eating expensive lunches and dinners while being courted all around the strip by interested teams.

 

Here is another thing to consider before shelling out  all the dusty money from the safe. Just how secure are we that the money will come back into the team’s coffers during this financial crisis. Will the fans be as eager to shell out up to $ 100 a visit to either of the pearly gates to see their New York teams play in 2009. Now tickets might not cost a hundred, but when you consider all the extras like food, beverage and maybe parking or transportation and a few after game suds, a hundred might even be a bargain. Teams might be looking for value in the fast lane this year and might even produce a few incentive laden contracts to help in case of a financial meltdown at the turnstiles and concession stands around baseball. People will still come to game no matter what, but the amount of expendible currency and the consistancy of that money might be watered down a bit at first in 2009. As fast as the nation rebounds, sports will shows an increase in revenues and sales of merchandise. But until then, it might be a buyers’ market for a short time.

 

I truly think the Mets might have the upper hand here in getting a few of the prized free agents based solely on the team’s current assets. What pitcher would not want to have a David Wright or Jose Reyes behind him makiing him look good. Those two guys on their own could be the best “face cards” to show for a prospective starter or closer signee. But of course the Yankees have their own cornerstones who can command respect and admiration in Jeter and A-Rod, but you never know how long those two will be together before age and injury finally takes them to the turf.  So we have a case of old guard and new guard in both the middle of the New York infields. One has been style and elegance for years, while the other has been power and speed. Sorry Yankees, I have to give this bet to the young turks on the Met’s roster based on potential after the fact.

 

 

                  

 

The next week will truly show if the worldly belief that you can bring home a fortune in Las Vegas holds true. Either team can be winners in this sweepstakes, but might also be smart to consider the penalties for thinking too far beyond the box.  Minor phrases and comments by Sabathia and by K-Rod might be indicators of just how fast all of this will be done. Sabathia might drag this out a bit and the Yankees might  just move onto A J Burnett or Ben Sheets because of less stress and more straight talk. But Burnett’s familarity with the division might be worth the extra dough to steal him out of a Braves uniform.

 

If this was 2008, and the economy and the job situation were bright, all power to the players for getting everything they can for their services. Prudent behavior has never been a strong suit of the ownership of either the Yankees or the Mets.  I have also heard recently that they will again petition for more bonds to secure the finishing touches to their stadiums beyond the Billions already spent on stadiums for both teams. Being financially prudent might also be the “river” card that could make or break their next few seasons.

 

By playing smart and studying the enviroment around them, they might come away with a minor player who will become a major contributor. High dollar doesn’t always mean high value.  Both these franchsies know this very well. Do we have to remind each franchise of their last high dollar low output signings. The Yankeess still cringe when the name Carl Pavano is heard in public, and the Mets might feel the same about Pedro Martinez and his ever changing body aliments. So it might be smart for both teams to take a step back and even re-evaluate a few things before sticking their heads back into the fire.

 

 People forget that baseball has always been a way for Americans to forget about their problems. Each World War was a huge emotional time for the country, and baseball helped ease the pains and the stress of life. During the Great Depression, baseball also served as a every man’s fantasy world that for a single nickel, they could watch 9 innings of guys working their hearts out for the common man without the stress of their own everyday life.

 

 Personally, I think that baseball keeps my head above water. Baseball is my primary solitude in a hectic world. And to think that the two giants in New York are struggling with success is almost too much to take at times. I am not a fan of either of these two teams, but I have a huge amount of respect for the organizations. And for that reason, I think the fan base deserves a winner, or at least a team that plays hard and nasty until the end of the 162nd game.  I always expect a New York team to come out bold and brash and carry their voice loud and proud into the night. But in 2008, for the first time in a very long stretch, both voices went silent in October. That is a silence that neither team can afford in 2009.

 

 

 

 

The cards are dealt and the bets are in………………Do they both win, or do they both lose?  

 

Does the play of the dealer and the teams bring out a push, or do they split the cards and find their glory in the end. The odds are in the favor of the house always, and the “house” in this matter is the players. Based on the climate of today, do they go to the penthouse, or do they give the team a chance and maybe back-load a contract a bit. The decision is about to come to light. No one knows but the guy holding the cards if it will be  a blow for a defeat or triumph.  A bit of gambling advice I was once given by a well known gambler, you never bet blindly on a sure thing, that only leads to a huge disppointment that neither you nor your dreams can ever rebound from….ever.

 

 

Is Las Vegas Sniffing Around the Tampa Bay Rays?

 

 

 

 

After a  oustanding season like 2008, cities like Las Vegas, who have hungered for a baseball team going on 15 years still have the taste for the game. With Major League Baseball heading to Las Vegas for their  2008 Winter Meetings this weekend and next week, it is not wonder that Las Vegas will roll out the red carpet for the baseball elite and  will again troll the hallways and side passages hoping to talk to ballclubs secretly fighting for stadiums and more  revenues to keep up with the Steinbrenners’ of the world.

 

Stu Sternberg, the Rays principal owner, has stated time and time again that 2008 will be a barometer as to what the fan base pulse of the Tampa Bay area. Would Stu and crew maybe be looking for a way out of town? or maybe could be seduced by the Sin City charm and the aspect of over 39 million travelers to the fair city. Or could a FREE stadium built for his pleasure and  his team’s future financial well-being be beyond just a nibble or taste of future goodness.

 

 

                                                                            

 

We will not know the answer to these questions anytime  in the near future, but with the Rays’ executive team heading to Las Vegas and the Bellagio resort for a week of meetings and backroom trade banter, you can be sure Las Vegas Mayor  Oscar Goodman will be close in hand with a towel, drink or even a ticket to an exclusive show to chat, converse or even entice any team’s officials about  baseball some day coming to the desert.

 

The mayor of Las Vegas sure seems to know a lot about the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays. He knows about their young pitching and the offense that can tack on runs like rain when the floodgates let loose, but he also know the payroll limits set by the limited local support of the Tampa Bay community.  He knows that the team has an outstanding infield, where opponents’ line drives and ground balls go to die.  He even think they might have a  future dynasty of sorts if the payroll can equal the win totals of last season ( $97 million would make a great roster even better).

 

                           

 

 

But will the dynasty be forged in  St. Petersburg, or maybe somewhere westerdly beyond the hustle and bustle of Tampa Bay? As MLB offcials and team management head to Vegas for their annula Winter Meetings,  Goodman plans to be there with showgirls on each arm, pressureing baseball’s  high and mighty to listen to his sales pitch.

 

Much like that guy who sold your parents’ that time-share years and years ago, Goodman is great with a small group, but even better when he holds the right cards. And the team that has him salavating is our Rays.  Most people would think that Las Vegas is not far along in the process of even imagining a franchise in their town. If you believe that, please do not play poker with the man. He is alot farther along than even you and me think he is in trying to secure a team for his neon community.

And he’s not the only one eyeing the Rays.

 

                                                  

 

 

Oscar Goodman would probably have a hard time getting elected to the St. Petersburg City Council. Take St. Petersburg mayor Rick Baker and times him by 5 and you will get the intensity of this guy. He is a maverick at making a deal, and he has a mission to secure an MLB, NHL, NBA and maybe even a NFL team before he leaves office in 2011. It would be a legend as big as Bugsy Segal if he could pull off that miracle for the town that money built.

 

 

In Nevada, the 69-year-old Goodman may wind up governor. That would put him in position to even pester the MLB brass for years and years until either thry buckle or a team sashshays toward the neon lights and big times. The third-term mayor is a  former high profile lawyer for the mob, once suggested  to the town’s folks that people caught spraypainting graffiti  should lose a thumb on public television. That would take the old western standard of hangings and discipline in the town square to new meaning in the 21st Century

 

 

In 2004, when Las Vegas was  being considered as a  possible future home for the Florida Marlins, Goodman showed up at baseball’s winter meetings with two showgirls and an Elvis impersonator seeking the attention and the votes of the onwership groups of the league.

 

Most of the the baseball owners ran away from him, but then friend and former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda came over, hugged Goodman and said hello to the girls. Next came  current Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen. Then former Cincinnati Red Tony Perez, an executive with the Marlins.

 

 

Past the glitz and the off-color comments, Goodman is serious about his quest for a major league franchise. Las Vegas is one of the 10 fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the country, with its population increasing almost 30 percent between 2000 and 2006. It’s within driving distance of San Diego, Phoenix and Los Angeles. Has a diverse demographic that probably has a minority of Red Sox and Yankee fans to fill the stadium on game days.

 

And, perhaps most importantly, it saw 39-million visitors in 2007. But will people go to Vegas to do their usual ventures and also come out to a baseball game. Why not, you can not gamble 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, you will need down time. And baseball could be the perfect answer to the stress and pressure of Las Vagas from April to October every year.

 

Movement already is happening. The sports research division of Pricewaterhouse Coopers says it is studying the Las Vegas market for an unnamed client. And while Major League Baseball asked Goodman to stop talking to the  Florida Marlins about relocation after ecent stadium set-backs and high budget restraints, baseball executives recognize Las Vegas’ potential.

 

 

               

 

One high ranking MLB executive called Las Vegas “one of the most attractive markets in the U.S. for a pro sports franchise,” and said it was a serious candidate to attract the Montreal Expos when they were moving. As you might remember, the Expos former owner bought the Marlins, while his old team became the basis for the Washington Nationals. So Vegas as an eye and an ear tuck deep into the sand listeningh to everything going on in baseball.

 

 

          

 

Building a stadium would not be an issue, Goodman says. Neither would a public vote, which would not be required. And you know that they could have the ultimate in in-game entertainment with the local flair for the over-done and the obscene, but tasteful local traditions.  A retractable roof or even a full-time roof because of the high heat could be contructed and manitained with ease in the town that is Las Vegas.

 

 

 

And on sports betting, a sticky issue for professional sports, a compromise likely could be reached that would prevent gamblers from betting on Las Vegas home games, Goodman said. Goodman would not specifically talk about the Rays — he doesn’t want to be used as leverage for the stadium pursuit in St. Petersburg, nor does he want to upset big league executives.

 

But with the current stadium concept now in a grass-roots, fact finding mode, the team might be willing to wait out their results, but what if the findings come out to be negative and non-responsive to the St. Petersburg, or even Tampa Bay area fan base. So could the future be pointing towards the neon and glitter of Sin City, or the breezes and palm trees of Tampa Bay?

 

                      

 

 

But from afar, Goodman has noticed the thousands of empty seats at Tropicana Field during the past season. He wants to nail down a baseball, basketball or hockey franchise before he leaves office in 2011. Rays officals have called the next few years critical to the team’s foundation, but could that just be wordspeak to a possible move or even re-evaluation of baseball on the West Coast of Florida? 

 

 

The Rays still hope to build a new ballpark in the Tampa Bay area, and likely are prepared to continue pressing local officials for public funding. That back-and-forth could take years. At the same time, while Las Vegas might be motivated to attract a team, the citiy is far from a panacea for Major League Baseball. Both come with questions as a market. Just like Tampa Bay.

 

 

The Rays themselves dismiss any talk of relocation. Sterberg has also gone on record  that the Rays are singularly focused on making baseball work in the Tampa Bay area. In any event, the move would not be as easy as the Colts midnight move from Baltimore to Indianapolis. The Rays have a tight and iron-clad lease to play in Tropicana Field through the 2027 season.

 

At a minimum, the Rays would be forced to pay off the outstanding debt on Tropicana Field if it left town before 2016, which now stands at $80-million. The debt total drops to $47-million in 2012 and $24.6-million in 2014. And besides that, fans based lawsuits and anyone with a contract with the team could step up and get a local judge to rule on the team staying in the area.

 

 

 

But it’s not out of the question the Rays could leave if a new ballpark isn’t eventually built, said Rob Canton, director of the sports, convention and tourism division of researcher Pricewater­houseCoopers. “The long-term viability of the Rays is in question if there isn’t a new ballpark,” Canton said.

 

Las Vegas could offer to build the Rays a stadium for free. And the Rays could then use the $150-million they would have contributed to a ballpark in St. Petersburg to negotiate their way out of the city’s lease. The moves are highly speculative, but it’s not impossible.

 

In the end, maybe posturing by Las Vegas is what it takes to get a new ballpark built in the Tampa Bay area. Like the leverage St. Petersburg created for the Chicago White Sox and San Francisco Giants. Tampa Bay also made people take up and notice in Seattle and Oakland, where the community had to take measures to keep their franchsies.

 

Seattle quickly approved a stadium plan for what is now Safeco Field. That moved turned the Mariners’ facility into one of the best ballparks in the country and scrapped the out-of-date domed Kingdome. Tampa Bay’s first baseball group had a signed contract with the old Oakland A’s ownership group, Levi’s Strauss, and MLB stepped in and found local ownership that could support and control the team before the Tampa Bay group could even move a muscle.

 

 

So there are alot of possible senarios and endeavors to take place beofre any true discussion can enter about relocation, or even removing the Rays from Florida. The stadium committee might have a major say in the future of the team.  They are currently seeking and looking for area to locate the proposed stadium, financial considerations, and the  most feasible way for transportation and the fan base to enjoy baseball for centruies in Tampa Bay. If all the work and the issues point to a dead end, then you never know yet about the eams’ true future here in Tampa Bay.

 

Or maybe it means the team find its new ballpark — 2,500 miles away.

 

I would not want to bet on this one, but for now……………I am going to let it all ride baby!!

 

 

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