No, not the new-hit TV show based off the popular comic book series. I’m talking about the obvious problems with this franchise. Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg in yet another redundant interview about the Rays’ future, pretty much indicated yet again that St. Petersburg is a cemetery and the Tropicana Field is the tomb. In the interview Sternberg elaborated on the franchise and the direction in which he wish to take it. For now, there is no solid plan as far as moving the stadium. The main focus of his statements revolved around two key important issues. The first is to obtain support from the St. Pete community leaders and second, is getting permission from its city officials to explore future stadium sites outside of the city.
Unfortunately, much like a terrible zombie apocalypse scenario, the undead have trapped Sternberg and the franchise in the graveyard where they plan to feast upon his hopes, dreams, potential success and flesh until the lease expires in 2027 (Someone get me a Flux Capacitor and DeLorean quick!) in which by then they hope to turn them too into helpless walking members of the dead. There is nothing we can all do about it. I can’t even complain because I’ve too reached a point where you can’t fight it. I’m just, like Sternberg, restating the same obvious point. It’d be nice to live in a cartoon world where we could just use a car jack or helicopter to lift the field across the bridge into Tampa like the Looney Toons use to do. Even the way I made that reference shows that this topic has driven me bonkers, but I digress.
I admit that I am really hard on my criticism of St. Pete and hung up on the stadium issue. I cannot blame the citizens and community of St. Pete which worked their asses off to get a professional baseball team in the area all those years ago. I know that this is what is helping drive the city’s revenue and part of the big attraction of coming to St. Pete (although not as many according to attendance) and they do not want to lose that so I can understand the defense and urgency of wanting to keep them in St. Pete. I also can’t blame them for the state of the economy. People are unemployed; salaries are generally lower here in all occupation fields across the board as opposed to other regions such as the west coast or northeast. In addition, people are traveling less to save money, people have financial problems, and no one wants to drive over the bridge. I even know during the ALDS that people argued that they saved the money (not really there were tickets selling for almost regular price) that they didn’t spend during the regular season all year so they could go see the playoff games.
There, now that I have acknowledged and addressed all the serious issues, lame excuses, harsh criticisms and asinine counterarguments that may come my way I can comfortable say the following. Businesses cannot thrive when they’re not making enough to cover their cost and then some. It is simple as that as that. Putting all the emotional and human elements aside the fact of the matter is that Sternberg already said that the team payroll will reflect the attendance numbers at the games throughout the season. I know a lot of people want to argue that the organization is not spending the money so why should we go spend money attending the games. Really? Three winning seasons, two AL East Division Championships, one AL Pennant, and one World Series appearance and that is not enough? No wonder why ESPN analysts are always making fun of us.
It is not Sternberg being greedy or him trying to intimidate people into going to games. It is just basic logic. A restaurant that prepares great food and gets more people coming back consistently will be able to upgrade its facilities, make new products, and pay its employees an amount that keeps them happy and makes them want to continue working there. As the cliché saying goes everything in life is all about location, location, location. Right now the Rays are a successful little business whose best sales staff, expert technicians, and prized personnel are being lured away because the stupid office building can’t be found by customers and clients because it is located in a secluded plaza behind a big warehouse with a giant tree covering the sign.
I will accuse whoever I want of not supporting the team. You know why? Here is my one go to reason, two words. FLORIDA GATORS. I know this is traditionally a football state. Hell, the south in general is a football region. But I cannot tell you how many co-workers, friends, acquaintances, and classmates of mine will spend two and half hours worth of gasoline to travel to Gainesville of all places (not the most geographically exciting area at least St. Pete has a beach) , tailgating expenses, merchandise gear, on top of the ticket prices (they’re more expensive than Rays tickets, don’t believe me click here) to see the Gators play. Then come in and say I’d support the Rays if they won more often. Just be honest and say you’re not that into baseball. Go ahead and support your teams, but don’t go out of your way to announce your excuses to why you couldn’t do this or do that. In the end if you really wanted to go you would’ve gone. I mean if an alcoholic wants to drink, they’re gonna find a way to drink. You really love your college football teams your going to do anything to see them. You really love your baseball team, you wait for the free ticket give away or come when you can buy league championship tickets. This is exactly why we’re so screwed.
As way off topic as that was it is not all far from the truth, but let me just finish up by saying as much as I criticize Sternberg, he defied all reason and somehow took an irrelevant team and made them competitive in the toughest division in baseball, the AL East, within a five year period which is astounding considering the limited restrictions that come with a small franchise. He is celebrating five years as owner and plans on “owing the team for a long time”. As far as the future goes he says, “This is our home, Tampa Bay is our home. We’re going to leave no stone unturned. I don’t know many stones are left, but we’re going to leave no stone unturned.” I hope for all our sakes they find that stone, rock, pebble or clod of dirt real soon or the lack of attendance will be the least of their problems and I am too impatient to wait for 2027.