Saturday, July 18, 2009

Follow ups on comments from the stadium post

Just a follow up on a few items I commented on in the Stadium thread:

This article ran in the Tampa Tribune this week. At the bottom they note that Tropicana Field has 60 suites, and the ABC Committee is recommending 60 at most. Remember i mentioned earlier that the Marlins just lowered their numbers in their new park from 60 down into the 40s because the demand wasn't there. If a team owner feels he needs a new stadium to gain access to facilities that allow them to sell premium seats, perhaps Tropicana Field already fills this need. Consider the revenue sources available t0 a baseball team :

  1. Game ticket revenue
  2. Local radio and television deal
  3. Revenue sharing
  4. Royalties from merchandising
  5. Concessions
  6. Advertising
  7. Sponsorships/Promotions

(As it relates to the stadium issue, there is an expense side that would change if the Rays moved (lease expense), but any new facility would probably represent an increase in that expense.)

When you really look at these revenue streams the only one that a new stadium would significantly impact would be the first. Ticket revenue is their largest source of revenue (maybe second largest but we don't know what the Rays get in revenue sharing from the league) , but as the Tampa Tribune is noting, a new facility isn't giving the Rays a huge leap in premium seating to gouge their wealthier constituents, and the total capacity would be less than Tropicana Field. So what gives?

Exact Bob Howsam Quote from "Baseball in Cincinnati: From Wooden Fences to Astroturf"

Remember, his words not mine

Also, I fought hard to get permission for artificial turf covering the whole field of play - except of course for the sliding areas around the bases. At that time, although there were artificial turf stadiums, they all had dirt infields as with the natural grass fields. At first I was given permission to have such a field for only a year. Then I won approval to keep it and now several fields are made that way.

There are really only a few things you have to do well in order to have a successful franchise. Some of them have to do with the stadium itself: a design that will involve the fan in the game as fully as possible. Then there is the look of the place and its condition. It should be clean and attractive. If you expect people to spend three or four hours there, they should feel as comfortable as in their own homes. But since the stadium is also a setting, the field of play should be as attractive as a well set stage.

So the artificial turf comes in for a number of reasons. It always looks good. It doesn't need cutting and trimming and watering. It is a pleasing color allowing a contrast with the white of the ball, a contrast that allows the eye to follow the ball wherever it goes against the turf.

Most important, turf allows the game to be played the way it was meant to be played. Why should so hard to get a perfect dirt and grass infield? We can come much closer with the artificial turf. Therefore chance has less to do with the outcome. Home teams can't tamper with the surface and give themselves an unfair advantage. The fast bounces on the carpet , coupled with good arms in the outfield, make for close plays on base runners: excitement. And of course this is what the fans love.

Back to the Rays..

All the little pieces of evidence when taken as a whole are ridiculous. We've got an ownership group saying that Tropicana Field isn't a good enough facility. Yet, when you look at the revenue streams the area that an owner would want in a new stadium to exploit their rich fans, the Rays already have that (luxury suites). Then you have this ABC Committee saying we need a closed roof to make things comfortable. It is silly to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a retractable roof when ultimately the roof will always be closed when people are inside. We already have that. Then you read this quote from a dude in the 60s talking about how awesome artificial turf is enough to make your head explode. Lastly, a new expensive stadium will equal higher rent expense for the Rays. None of this adds up

You can sort of understand the new stadium in cases like the Brewers replacing County Stadium. That facility didn't allow ownership to financially rape their fans. But I don't see how Tropicana Field handcuffs Sternberg from pillaging the passive fan who isn't just there to watch a game.

A new stadium will increase the value of Stu's investment in the Rays partnership exponentially. That is the reason the Rays want this to happen. All these other factors are a smokescreen.

Ethan Skolnick of the Sun-Sentinel wrote an article today about the Marlins new stadium. Most of it is Marlin specific, but the facts he gives about attendance in new stadiums applies to our situation too. Take those comments, and then figure that after year 2 or 3 when the new car smell wears off, the team will be right back to where we are now in terms of attendance. Weekend draws have been great this year too! Because the team is good. This stadium thing is ridiculous. If they move away from downtown, and the move isn't to the Carillon area, then the Rays have risked alienated half of their fan base for very little to gain

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