As noted by DRaysBay, the Rays have finally settled on a location for their future site and it’s chosen the Ybor site. That’s pretty big Expos news! Not all involved are happy about the decision, however, as noted by Rick Kriseman who was hoping the Stadium would be built in St-Pete’s,
You can understand the hard feelings, and listening to the news conference, you could tell that St-Pete’s officials really feel like they have an outstanding plot of land to market. It may just not be the spot for a stadium, and judging from the logistics required to support one, I’d say it’s a good decision to head to the downtown core.
The irony of it all, however, is that although they’ve decided on a new site, Jeffry Loria’s legacy gets in the way of the next and possibly most critical step – Financing.
Florida’s tax payers are still reeling from having to fund the entire stadium build in Miami and haven’t appeared willing to be as forthcoming in funding the efforts in Tampa Bay. Therefore, Rays ownership are likely going to have to be willing to fund a greater portion of the build than they’d likely prefer.
There’s a great article written by Ken Belson on the Miami Stadium in July of 2017, and it’s worth a read if you want more details on how much commitment may be required on a stadium investment.
Montreal Expos: Are we any closer to a return?
There’s a key quote on that from a Marc Topkin article in November 2017, where the MLB Commissioner was quoted as saying the following,
“I’m more focused on working with the community to figure out how we can make this work,” he said, “than on what’s going to happen if we fail.”
But, he made clear, that the Rays and MLB need to see more — a lot more — than the plot of land.
“We need to figure out how the community can support an effort to keep baseball in Tampa (Bay),” Manfred said.
So although the Rays are a step closer to making things work in Tampa, the fan and business community commitment remain as large and evident obstacles to locking things down, as well as the previously mentioned Financing.
Therefore, to show the commitment is there to all – including investors – the Rays have set up “Tampa Bay Rays 2020“, a site devoted to petitioning interest in the team.
Personally, while a novel idea, I’d rather go the ticket sales route. Not only is it more credible in commitment, but it represents a commitment fans and businesses can’t back out from, as opposed to a petition where minds can be changed from one day to the next.
Still, those wind up being the major obstacles to the Rays solidifying their position in Tampa Bay:
- Sort out the Financing
- Sort out the details in the site and its surroundings developments
- Decide on stadium plans and get them approved by stakeholders
- Obtain business community and fans commitments
- Negotiate the lease break from the Trop site
- Sign the contracts and papers at that point and make it happen
In short, there’s still a long ways to go, but the good news is that the efforts now can become more focused on crossing those items off the list now that a site has been decided on. Before the site was chosen, nothing could move forward.
Expos fans can rest assured that the process is finally moving in the right direction and ongoing talks with MLB officials can ramp up to ensure Montreal remains at the top of the next potential sites for expansion teams.
– Mat Germain
Baseball writer for Expos Reloaded and SB Nation’s DRaysBay, with more than 10 years covering the Toronto Blue Jays (Jays Journal) and Tampa Bay Rays. Still serving in the Canadian Armed Forces as a Reservist and Operations Officer for 413 Search and Rescue Squadron in Greenwood, Nova Scotia. Follow Mat on Twitter @MatGermain76.