(originally posted by me on FanHome and modified for Boltsmag -- JF)
There was a piece in the New York Times yesterday about the upcoming Rays series in Orlando. Within the story, Stu Sternberg -- the Rays managing partner -- is quoted as saying "Baseball does not feel right indoors," and that Tropicana Field "We recognize it has a shelf life of five years."
This has stirred up a hornets nest of discussion as well as Sternberg having to further explain his comments. He's not lobbying for a new stadium, he's not asking for a new stadium, he's not demanding a new stadium... He and his investment partners have put 20 million dollars into Tropicana Field the last two seasons and those monies weren't just a five year investment when a much larger piece of change would be required if the team were planning to lobby for a new park.
To describe the situation as Rays fans know it -- Tropicana Field won't be replaced any time soon, especially with how crappy the ballclub has been since it's inception nine years ago. It doesn't warrant that kind of investment -- no matter how much harping out-of-towners say about the park (or even locals who don't attend games, citing the stadium as an excuse). The team is also locked in to a 30 year lease with hefty fines for breaking it... That alone locks the team in to St. Petersburg.
That being said, a dialog about a new stadium isn't a horrid thing -- it's the absolution that a new stadium is needed and now because of blah, blah, blah. Insert your reasoning here.
I made mention in November of a St. Petersburg Times snippet about the Rays starting a dialog about a new ballpark. I don't recall this being brought up in the latest hoopla or not. Regardless, there are two absolutes that need to remembered with the Rays and any talk of a new venue:
Tropicana Field is 16 years old, the stadium design itself was a relic of the 1970’s to keep the building energy efficient. The location of the stadium (downtown St. Petersburg) and it’s design have been debated and put into question time and time again over the course of the Rays existence
The Rays have no hope for a new venue as long as the team stays as pathetic as they have been since their inception. It’s just noteworthy the team is putting it’s toe in the pool regarding the stadium situation.
The second quote is the stronger reasoning. Both the Lightning and the Buccaneers offered the Tampa Bay sports fans a taste of competitiveness in order to earn the right to have the community invest in a new venue. The Rays haven't even come close yet, and until they do, a new venue and talk of one is just a pipe dream.
Humor me though, there's a new poll here at Boltsmag asking readers where in the region a new Rays ballpark should be...