Rays’ stadium update
Despite an exodus of free agent talent, the Tampa Bay Rays are one of the better teams in the American League this year. At the gate is an entirely different matter and that has owner Stuart Sternberg once again making a public plea for a new stadium.
In a recent talk, Sternberg talked about how his team is 29th in attendance despite coming off of division titles in two of the past three years and that the just under 18,000 fans paying to see the team play isn’t going to allow Sternberg to sustain a contending team.
Shortly after the Sternberg quip, Field of Schemes reported that Hillsborough County might be looking at using Tax Increment Financing (TIF) to help the Rays to build the infrastructure around what could be a new ballpark in Tampa. TIF financing basically involves using the increase in the property tax base created by, in this case a new stadium, to effectively pay back the municipality for their contribution. TIF’s have been used before but it looks like this plan takes things to the next level. Good stuff as always by Neil deMausse.
Las Vegas stadium plan on hold
A plan to build a ballpark, arena and stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada ran out of time in the legislature so, for the time being, Vegas’ chances of luring a major league baseball team are on hold. In all, the project would have put three developers in a competition for the project that would have cost just south of $2 billion. The plan had some legs but it was brought out late in the legislative session and there just wasn’t enough time to hash out the details.
Not that a MLB team in Vegas would have been slam dunk even if the stadium was built, but it now hurts teams like the Rays and the Oakland Athletics because they lose a potential bargaining chip. There's also the gambling issue, which the league would have to walk around in the event someone thought Vegas would be a viable option for a team.
Yankee Stadium parking garages draw interest
With the new Yankees Stadium a few years ago came some new parking garages and while these parking garages were publicly subsidized, they haven’t been doing well. Field of Schemes speculates that next year we could see a bankruptcy filing but in the latest development, it looks like some hedge funds have been buying up the garage debt thinking they could make some money there by turning them around.
The big question is how cheap the hedge funds are buying the debt. deMausse questions how they could make money on the deal with all of the other parking options around, but he speculates that if the debt can be bought cheap enough, a complete turn around wouldn’t be necessary.
Forest Service to the rescue on broken bats
MLB had a problem with broken bats back in 2008 so to help fix the problem, they called in the U.S. Forest Service to see if they could help fix the issue. Since the Forest Service was brought in, broken bats by themselves haven’t gone down, but the more dangerous type—pieces of the bat flying off the handle—are down by 50 percent since.
The problems that were fixed ranged from the type of the bat to their makeup. Low density maple seemed to cause more problems than ash, and the shape of the bat also seemed to make a difference. Another big issue was the slope of the grain—and in order to make things safer, manufacturers can be fined if they don’t meet the new specifications.
Brian Borawski is a member of SABR's Business of Baseball Committee and writes about the Detroit Tigers at his own website, TigerBlog. He welcomes comments, questions and suggestions via e-mail.
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