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Mets owners lose bid to build a mall next to Citi Field

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The Mets owners, Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz, are real estate guys. And next to the stadium in which their team plays is a big open space currently serving as a parking lot. Real estate guys don’t like big open spaces. They want that land to generate as much revenue as possible, and baseball parking lots don’t generate any revenue for, like, 280 days a year. As such, Wilpon, Katz and their business partners wanted to build something there: a mall.

The problem: that land is not theirs. It’s publicly-owned parkland that was designated for baseball use in 1961. Shea Stadium sat on it for decades. As a parking lot for Shea’s replacement, it’s still being used for baseball. As a mall . . . not so much.

The Wilpon/Katz-controlled entity, joined by the city, argued, rather clumsily, it seems, that a mall would TOTALLY be in the public interest because, um, well, the money from it would be used to build other public stuff later. The court didn’t buy it, and now their dreams of building a mall next to Citi Field are dead. You can read the whole decision here.

You can get away with a lot of fleecing of the public when you own a baseball team, but even then there are limits.

Rob Manfred says Tampa Bay must pick up pace on new stadium

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred wants Tampa Bay to work a little quicker on getting the Rays a new ballpark.

Rays Principal Owner Stuart Sternberg has been working for nearly a decade to get a new stadium for the club and signed a three-year agreement with the City of St. Petersburg early in 2016 to search for a site in the Tampa Bay area. Manfred wants that search to pick up some steam.

“I think it’s fair to say we want the process to take on a better pace moving forward,” Manfred said Wednesday night at Tropicana Field, home of the Rays since their first season in 1998.

The Rays were averaging 15,815 fans per game before Wednesday night’s contest against the Toronto Blue Jays. That is just over half the major league average of 30,470. Tropicana Field and its location have been almost universally blamed as the reason for the poor attendance.

“I’ve been pretty clear that they need a new facility here, a major league quality facility in an A-plus location,” Manfred said. “It is time to move that decision to the front burner here in Tampa.”

The matter of how a stadium would be financed has been tabled until a site is determined, but Sternberg continued to express confidence in the Tampa Bay market.

“I’ve had the opportunity to bail on it many times over the years,” he said. “I won’t say this is a slam dunk, it’s certainly not. But I think we can do something that’ll at least double our attendance. That’s a lot to ask for.”

Manfred said Major League Baseball “doesn’t have a firm timetable” for what steps to take if the Rays fail to get an agreement to build a new stadium in the Tampa Bay area, but but added that “it is a topic of discussion in the industry, the lack of progress.”

More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

Robinson Cano leaves game with hamstring tightness

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Bad news for the Mariners this evening: Robinson Cano left Seattle’s game against the Atlanta Braves with tightness in his left hamstring.

Cano walked off the field after legging out a double — his second of the game — in the third inning. He pulled up as he approached second base and walked off the field, accompanied by a trainer. There was no immediate word on the severity of the injury. The Mariners have a day off Thursday before opening a series at the Yankees on Friday night, so they have some time to evaluate him.

Cano is hitting .277/.377/.460 with 19 homers and 78 RBI on the year.