For years St. Petersburg mayor Bill Foster’s position has been that if the Rays looked at possible new stadium sites outside of Pinellas County they and whoever they negotiate with are threatening the lease for Tropicana Field. There have even been threats of legal action if other cities or counties tried to lure the team from St. Petersburg.
Which makes this report from the Tampa Tribune pretty significant:
Mayor Bill Foster and Rays principal owner Stu Sternberg have been talking, and city attorneys have been meeting with team officials to negotiate an agreement that would allow the team to explore other possible stadium sites. The most recent meeting with the city’s legal team took place Wednesday morning.
Foster is in a reelection fight and the Rays have become an issue, according to the report. It’s possible that even if the lease and the finances favor Foster’s Tropicana-Field-Or-Bust view of the world, that view is becoming a political liability.
I wouldn’t say this means anything is changing any time soon. But it is a first step toward some sort of resolution to get the team out of that ballpark before the lease is up in 2027.
Earlier this year Disney agreed to purchase the majority stake in BAMTech, the digital media company spun off from MLB Advanced Media. We know it as the source of the technology for MLB.tv and MLB.com, but it’s far more wide-ranging than that now. At present it powers streaming for MLB, HBO, NHL, WWE, and, eventually, will power Disney’s and ESPN’s upcoming streaming services.
The company was started by an investment from baseball’s 30 owners, so they’re getting a big payout as a result of the acquisition. Earlier this morning Jim Bowden dropped this regarding how much of that payout is in the offing in the short term:
That’s probably on the low end, actually. Some people I’ve spoken to who are familiar with the acquisition say the figure is more like $68 million in Q1 of 2018.
Good for the owners! It was a savvy, forward-thinking investment that, in the past, baseball owners might not have made. Bud Selig, Bob Bowman and others deserve credit for convincing the Jeff Lorias and Jerry Reinsdorfs of the world to think big and long term. It’s money out of the sky, raining down upon the owner of your baseball team for, basically, doing nothing.
Money which should be remembered when your buddy complains about a relief pitcher getting $6 million for only pitching 65 innings. Money which should be remembered when your team’s GM says that he has to cut back on payroll in the coming year.