News Flash: the Rays need a new home

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Tropicana Field.jpgThat’s not really news, but it’s now an Official Finding of a committee put together by a coalition of St. Petersburg business and community leaders.  One would think that such a conclusion could be reached upon one or two visits to Tropicana Field, but these guys have been studying the matter for eighteen months.  Though to be fair, that’s a blink of an eye in committee-years.

And it’s actually a handful of related findings, which include the following:

  • The Rays are “an economic driver” of the community and enhance quality of life for Tampa Bay area residents;
  • To stay competitive, the Rays need the higher
    revenues that a modern, retractable roof stadium with lots of amenities
    can generate. It’s not a question of “if” the Rays need a new stadium, it’s “when” and “how.”;
  • Such a stadium would probably cost at least $550 million;
  • Tropicana Field is “nearing the end of its economically useful life,” and renovation would be too costly;
  • To draw more fan and corporate
    support, a new stadium should be closer to the Tampa Bay area’s
    demographic and business centers. The Pinellas Gateway, downtown Tampa
    and west Tampa meet that criteria, but downtown St. Petersburg does not.

I don’t take issue with any of these except the assumptions regarding the team’s economic impact on the community.  The report says the Rays pump $200 million into the local economy.  As economists like J.C. Bradbury and others have repeatedly shown, however, such estimates are typically overblown, and often comically so

I think the Rays need a new ballpark because, generally speaking, their current one is a total drag. But let’s make a deal: unlike we did with the other two dozen or so new ballparks that got built over the past 20 years, why don’t we spend some time making sure that in this case the taxpayers aren’t royally boned and the billionaires that run baseball aren’t given yet another gratuitous bit of corporate welfare.

The linked story in the St. Petersburg Times provides a good start in the form of a chart which provides some critical context to the committee’s findings. Here’s hoping it doesn’t stop there, and that the reporters who spend so much time complaining about how steroid users have stolen from history spend at least a little bit of time preventing baseball owners and allied business interests from stealing from the public.

And if the people of St. Petereburg do balk? Hey, it’s not like the Rays don’t have options.

Sammy Sosa compares himself to Jesus Christ

Sammy Sosa
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I’m on record saying that Sammy Sosa has been rather hosed by baseball history.

The guy did amazing things. Unheard-of things. He was truly astounding at this peak and was incredibly important to both his franchise and Major League Baseball as a whole. His repayment: he’s a pariah. His club won’t claim him and his greatness, by any measure, has not just been overlooked but denied by most who even bother to consider him.

Yes, he had PED associations, but they were extraordinarily vague ones. He’s in the same boat as David Ortiz as far as documented PED evidence against him, but Ortiz will be a first ballot Hall of Famer while Sosa barely clings to the ballot. He hit homers at the same cartoonish rate as Mark McGwire, but while Big Mac has been embraced by baseball and has coached for years, Sosa can’t get into Wrigley Field unless he buys a ticket and even then the Cubs might try to hustle him out of sight. The man has been treated poorly by any measure.

Yet, it’s still possible to overstate the case. Like Sosa did in this interview with Chuck Wasserstrom:

It’s like Jesus Christ when he came to Jerusalem,” Sosa told chuckbloggerstrom.com. “Everybody thought Jesus Christ was a witch (laughing) — and he was our savior. So if they talk (bleep) about Jesus Christ, what about me? Are you kidding me?”

At least he was basically joking about it. Still, it’s a totally unfair and almost offensive comparison.

I mean, anyone who watched Sosa’s career knows that he had trouble laying off breaking stuff low and away. In contrast . . .

Magic Johnson to take over the Lakers, but will still be part of Dodgers ownership

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 15:  Earvin 'Magic' Johnson attends game one of the National League Championship Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Wrigley Field on October 15, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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This is more significant for basketball fans than baseball fans, but Magic Johnson is taking over basketball operations for the Los Angeles Lakers. Dan Feldman over at PBT has the full story on that.

For our purposes, you probably know that Johnson is part of the Dodgers ownership group. Anthony McCullough of the L.A. Times got comment from the Dodgers, saying that despite his new full-time job, his status with the Dodgers will be unchanged:

Maybe I’m alone in this, but I’m not entirely certain what Magic does with the Lakers, so the first clause in Kasten’s comment may be doing most of the heavy lifting here.