”We paid a lot of money for all those balls.”
I remember in college learning about parents that aren’t willing to acknowledge challenging behavior that their children may be creating in any given classroom. Their child may bully another student or toilet paper the bathroom, and then deny that their son of daughter could possibly do something like that when confronted with the reality that Johnny may be a challenging or polarizing figure in class. Does that make them horrible parents? Certainly not, after all no one wants to hear that their child is making it hard on the other classmates to do their job. Because those behaviors are never fully acknowledged though, Johnny keeps making the same poor decisions and the class suffers. Well friends, the Trop is Johnny. And those of us not willing to accept that the Trop is very flawed are the parents that aren’t willing to accept Johnny as the class, urm…you get the idea.
As the parents of Johnny, we defend the Trop the best we can. We say things like, “Stale environment? Pfft! At least we’ve got a roof over our heads and air conditioning!” or “I call the (catwalk) rings Wrigley’s Ivy.” We pat Johnny on the back and reassure him everything is “OK” however the bathroom keeps getting peppered with wet paper towel wads and Johnny never fully gets the support he may be craving. Likewise, we keep ignoring that the Trop has issues, and twenty years of neglect pass in the blink of an eye. Inevitably someone steps out and calls the Trop what it is, an aging facility with issues both large and small, and we step up and defend the Trop without acknowledging those issue because we want to hear that Johnny is being an urm…you get the idea.
Don’t get me wrong, I’d be the first to admit that the very public ramblings of Stu Sternberg come off as sounding like the annoying whining of a petulant tween who isn’t getting what she/he wants. In the words of the immortal Gorilla Biscuits, “It’s your big mouth and it’s getting on my nerves, you know I wish you’d just shut it up.” However, I’d be a fool if I didn’t admit that Stu’s public musings, though annoying, are valid. The Rays do deserve something better. The sooner the we stop defending the Trop to the hilt, the better. Repeat it with me: I love the Trop, but it indeed has flaws, both major and minor.
So, what exactly is wrong with the Trop?
Back in 2009, a design firm was hired to conduct a study on the Trop. Mind you, this study was conducted after the Rays decided not to pursue the proposed waterfront stadium that would have been built where Al Lang Stadium currently stands. Nevertheless, the purpose of the study was to see how much a full renovation of the Trop would cost in order to upgrade it from a B facility to an A+ facility. In a 2009 St. Petersburg Times article on the study, it was reported that:
“The seats are too narrow, views of the field are obstructed throughout the stadium, and the closed stadium contains no natural light, the study says. The concourse is too narrow and dead-ends, confusing fans and eliminating opportunities for socializing. Some seats are poorly located, so fans must turn to follow action on the field.
The press box, nestled between pricey club suites, takes up too much prime real estate, according to the report. There aren’t enough bathrooms or storage nooks, and the design makes cleanup too complicated. Roof catwalks obstruct some views of the field.
The report calls for removing several rows of seats in each lower deck section and at least five rows of seats in many upper deck sections to improve field visibility. That would eliminate nearly 2,000 lower deck seats, leaving a higher proportion of seats in the upper decks, where tickets are cheap and fans are far from the field.
Nearly 1,800 seats would also be removed in the outfield to create a continuous view of the field from the concourse.
The suite and club level would be replaced with larger suites. The press box would be relocated to the upper deck.
In all, the seating changes would remove at least 7,000 of Tropicana Field’s 43,000 seats.
The costliest change would require removing the dome roof and replacing it with a retractable fabric roof, along with glass or transparent panes in the exterior wall to bring in more natural light. These features add up to at least $221 million, or almost half of the total renovation cost.”
In the end, a complete renovation would cost $470 million, some $20 million more than the proposed waterfront stadium. The St. Petersburg Times article did not mention other troublesome concerns such as parking and location. However, the ABC commission conducted a study of its own, and found that the location of the Trop was not conducive to sustaining a team. According to the study:
“A projected population of 1,181,714 people will live within a 30 minute drive of Tropicana Field in 2013. Those numbers jump to 1,543,047 by 2035. There are approximately 123,032 households with an income greater than $75,000. Approximately $1.55 billion dollars are spent on entertainment yearly. Roughly 217,756 fans within a 30 minute driving radius of Tropicana Field attended Rays games in the last 12 months. Finally, there are approximately 12,747 firms with more than 10 employees within a thirty minute driving radius of Tropicana Field.”
That is to say, if the Trop was located in a central location, in an area that was easily accessible to a greater number of fans, and that area had a better potential of economic and population growth, then it would be feasible to spend the money to renovate the aging facility.
In a nutshell, both studies found that there are a lot of things wrong with our Johnny, and it would cost a crap load of money to renovate poor lil Johnny in order to fix all of the troublesome concerns. However, you could spend all of the money in the world to fix up the Trop, but it wouldn’t mean a damn thing because of the location. Oof.
Coming tomorrow, Part Three: If You Build It, They Might Come?
I’ve been tinkering with the idea of writing about the stadium issue for a while. After completing some extensive research into all-things surrounding this mess, I feel like I’m ready to dive in head first. So as to not drown you, the reader, in a long encompassing and potentially drunken sounding piece, I’ve decided to break it up into smaller pieces. Away we go!
Picture it: It’s Monday night and the Rays are scheduled to take on their AL East rivals, the New York Yankees. That game would be ESPN’s nationally televised Monday night game. A silent shudder goes through every bay area Rays fan, fore we all know what’s to come. And yes, our worst fears came to fruition.
The action on the field begins, as does the action in the booth. John Kruk and Rick Sutcliffe open their respective mouths and dish an ongoing fury of criticisms of the Trop, presumably breaking open the sixth seal. The apocalypse is right around the corner. Locusts attack the tourists on St. Pete Beach, a plague wipes out the citizens of Polk County, Rays fans go berserk by burning down abandoned buildings and random cars, and the Rays brass mirror the sentiments of those spewed over national television by the four horsemen of the apocalypse.
OK, well things may not have been that bad. Polk Counties citizens are fine as are the tourists soaking in the rays on the beach. There were no raging infernos to deal with either. However, in place of the events prophesied in nearly every holy book, came an ever growing torrent of opinions of what’s wrong with the Trop and why the Rays need a new stadium.
First off, the ESPN’s and Ken Rosenthal’s of the world (you know who you are) need to, in the words of papa bear Bill O’Reilly, “Shut up!” Yes, your opinions of the Trop may be valid, and yes we need a new stadium. However, your opinions are based off of the musings of people associated with the Rays organization at large, as well as fans of the Rays that want something better. Your ideas are not speaking for us because they are things that we are already well aware of. Likewise, your opinions are not your own informed, objective opinions. I’d say they share more of a kinship with statements made after playing he said/she said with a classroom of fifth graders. You know, the kind of statements that are predicated with, “well my brothers sisters cousins neighbors older brother Stan heard that the Trop sucks.” Childish at best. Please do us all a favor and do what you’re paid to do: broadcast the game.
To that end, Joe Maddon’s comments about the Trop, after being asked what he thought about John Kruk’s Monday night ramblings were valid. Why? Because the man is confronted with the Trop’s warts and issues on a daily basis. But, as St. Petersburg’s mayor Bill Foster so eloquently put it, (Maddon) “needs to concentrate on playing on the field.” That is to say, his job is to lead the team, not to be a shill for Stu Sternberg.
Speaking of good ole Stu, as much as I can not stand the over abundance of hyperbolic public bashing of the fans and their current facility, I must admit that he does have a point of contention about what is necessary for his team to be successful and sustainable in the future: the Rays do need a centrally located retractable roof stadium. He’s not alone in this idea. A great many people, including former mayor Rick Baker, also feel that the Rays need a new stadium. And so it goes.
So, here we go again. The debate is heating up, but the proverbial cold war between Mayor Foster and the Rays ownership seems to be as cold as ever. Little to nothing has been accomplished in this stalemate, and we are left with a constant “whaaaa” from both sides. Mayor Foster says that he would entertain the idea of building new stadium on the Pinellas side of the bay, and Sternberg says he’d be open to entertain offers in this region as a whole. Both sides have their reasons why they want what they want, and those reasons are indeed reasonable. However, until the two sides gather the wherewithal to come together and hash things out though, we’re all going to suffer with the hand we’re being dealt.
Coming tomorrow, Part Two: What’s Wrong with the Big Top.
If there’s anything good about Facebook (trust me, there really isn’t much) it’s that there is instant feedback to controversial posts or topics. Today, on the DRaysBay Facebook page, a link was posted titled “The Rays Need To Get Out of Tampa Bay”. This opinion piece was originally published by ESPN, and is hot linked here. For better or worse the issue regarding the stadium, by means of criticizing Rays fans, has again reared its ugly head. Below are the comments to the article, many of which are well thought out and well written and some, not so much…but I digress.
I didn’t really want to give my opinion about the issue at the moment, as I was planning on writing a bigger piece in the near future. However, this does seem to be a hot button issue, and the discourse created certainly couldn’t hurt. Check out the original piece (again, hot linked above and here) and the comments below. My un-inebriated, drivel like, response/opinion is below.
Facebook users comments:
Jim Dietrich I refused to be baited by these shills for the Yanks and Red Sox.
David Lopez Blah blah blah
Mike Hussey If they do move, I hope it is to Charlotte NC, and that is only because I live in NC now. I would prefer they stay home and get a new stadium in Tampa. GO RAYS!
DRaysBay The 1986 Red Sox won the division and FIFTEEN of their 81 home games had less than 20,000 people at the games. That’s for a franchise that had an 85 year history, public transportation to games, and box seats that were just $11 and the club was just fifth in AL attendance that season. Berthiaume is a tired act.
Manu Mishra Gaines pointed out that the picture was from 2004 (it looks like they’ve since removed it). I got fed up with Berthiaume a few weeks ago when he was arguing with the Common Man(?) about Correia being good cuz of his wins…
David Lopez If you’re going to use “facts” and “history” to support your argument, I’m not going to play.
Chris Thompson When are people going to start leaning on Mayor Foster more? Yes, Jonathan from B/R was the 1st to spot the picture last night and the other one they used was from a pre-game workout from the 2008 ALCS. Berthiaume talks about the Rays attendance more than Rush Limbaugh mentions taxcuts.
Cory Green “Baseball is just not going to stand for it anymore. And they’ll find a place for me. They won’t find a place here though.” I dont remember Stewie saying this. anyone else? kinda seems like there would be more outrage.
Chris O’Donnell They better not move the Rays or I’ll be stuck rooting for the Marlins. And I have a Rays tattoo but I’ll never regret getting it even if they move
Emilio Ladines I know one thing I am tired of media comparing the NY and Boston markets to that of Tampa Bays. Where is the in depth mention of transportation and economy? Some of these editors are just plain ignorant or biased. Like that annoying little gnat in the summer that don’t go away.
Anthony Ateek Quote from the article: “The franchise has done the best it can with a suffocating stadium lease,” save for working with the city in finding private funding for a new stadium.
Anthony Ateek And what’s really annoying is that not a word is mentioned about the average attendance being on the increase from the high 16,000′s at the beginning of the year to the 18,485 noted in the article.
Andrew Griffith Agree with the sentiments of the comments and Berthiaume shits me as much as the next guy, but let’s look at this from another angle. Having a new stadium in Tampa will have an unknown impact on the profits (especially if the Rays have to foot some of the bill). But it would increase the value of the team, if it was ever to be sold.
The Rays are profitable
Don’t forget this is a business, and our owner and operators are fantastic businessmen (who have already done a great job of increasing the team’s value). Articles like this bemoaning the “woes” of the team really help the businessmen’s cause.
DRaysBay @Andrew: Yeah, that is one of the real positives to take away from this. If nothing else, this may help light a fire under local government officials.
Jordan Wisecup Way to cherry pick 1986. The facts remain that the stadium is an eyesore and attendance is even uglier. Being that a substantial portion of DRaysBay is NOT from the Bay Area, it’s probably tough for you guys to come to terms with the fact that St. Petersburg cannot sustain an MLB team, so why can’t we just enjoy ‘em while we got ‘em. They’ll still be on your MLB.tv monitor. No need to wet your pants.
Here goes, AKA my un-inebriated, drivel like, response/opinion on the matter:
I have to question whether it would or wouldn’t have an impact on the bottom line. Don’t get me wrong, I’m of the persuasion that a new stadium is in order. However, the dominant (and/or loudest) opinions are made by those that assume Tampa is the land of milk and honey and are not critically or objectively looking at any other locations.
I will say, a centrally located spot that affords easy access for fans of the most highly populated areas (read, the Tampa Bay area, not necessarily Polk eastward) would be beneficial. If a stadium was to be built, say in the fairgrounds area, fans in Pinellas, Pasco, Bradenton, and Sarasota, who generally don’t have a hard time getting to the Trop, would likely become disenfranchised and would potentially not attend games. To that end, I don’t really see a lot of Tampa folks making the trek over to the fairgrounds in the middle of rush hour either. Would it be an ideal spot if the high-speed rail had been approved? I’d have to say yes, but it wasn’t. Besides, what would you do with the kids after the game; leave them in the car while mom and pop gamble? I suppose you could also entertain yourself at the Circle K, Waffle House, or myriad of amazing establishments and/or locals before driving home.
If a stadium was to be built in Hillsborough, I’d think it’d have to be done so in the Channelside area. However, keep in mind that the Channelside location would lend the perfect storm of traffic and lack of parking when baseball season overlaps with both the hockey and football seasons. Don’t believe me? Give it a year when the RNC is in that area for five days, re routing traffic, blocking roads, etc. Multiply the hassle of getting around that area by roughly 16 and one can imagine it’ll be a madhouse if a stadium were to be built there.
With all of that said, there are two, maybe three, areas in Pinellas that a stadium could be built: Carillon, Gateway, and potentially the dog-track. Please note: The dog track has been a location that has wet the palates of many people of late however, no one has officially talked to the owners of the dog track, so I’m not really certain if it should be considered a legitimate site or not. Those three locations are accessible to Hillsborough and eastward via three bridges (two of which dump off within a couple of miles), are centrally located, easily accessible to the greater Tampa Bay region, and already consist of built-in infrastructure.
What the article doesn’t really hit on though is the lack of quality mass transportation in the area which need to be greatly improved wherever the Rays choose to hang their hats, assuming that’s in this area. I’d go as far to say that the mass transportation system needs to be improved even sooner than the construction of a new stadium. Unfortunately, with the cuts that the state is facing in that department by one Governor Darth Vador/Lex Luther, I’m not certain the mass transportation issue will be intelligently worked on and hashed out in the next few years.
In the end, St. Petersburg’s Mayor Bill “Stick in the Mud” Foster, and Stu “Corn-cob in the Ass” Sternberg need to meet and come to some resolution, and the sooner the better.
Suffice to say, if anything, the 2011 season will go down as a memorable one. Even before the season started lots of controversial events occurred finding our beloved Rays in assumed dire straights. However, those events have been discussed at length on other sites by people much more eloquent than me, so far be it from me to bring them up again. Besides, we all know that we lost players x,y,z,1,2,3, yadayadayada, so yeah, pointless to bring that up again.
We’ve too had the pleasure of reading some lovely accounts from folks like Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal and Forbes Magazine’s Mike Ozanian regarding the controversy surrounding the issue of possibly contracting the Rays and A’s. More on that in a moment. We’ve also been told, time and again, by Stu Sternberg how we’re not good fans based on attendance numbers. I’ll discuss attendance and stadium issues at another time though.
There is one topic has quietly crept into the consciousness of baseball fans, and no Rays fans much to your chagrin, it’s not the potential trade of BJ Upton. It is, however, a topic that definitely effect the Rays. As the season progresses, the whispered rumors surrounding this topic get louder. That topic? Realignment. And from all accounts it seems as though realignment will be openly discussed during this winter’s CBA meetings. The question stands though; What effect might this have on the Rays?
First, it bears mentioning that if realignment is on the docket (and it seems as though it is) then the Ken Rosenthal’s and Mike Ozanian’s of the world can drop both the criticisms of small market teams and the hyperbolic arguments for contraction. In short, it would be counterintuitive to contract teams if Major League Baseball is indeed planning on realigning the American and National leagues. So how does Major League Baseball plan on realigning the leagues? Well, that answer is not so simple.
Since the league hasn’t officially put the issue of realignment out there, nor have they mentioned what route they might be taking, we can only base the hows and the effects of, on speculation…..
You can read the rest at: www.raysbaseball.co.
I’ll predicate this review by saying that my views are definitely biased when it comes to Against Me! Having known both James and Tom for the better part of 17 (or so) years, I’ve seen every incarnation of Against Me! and I can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed most everything they’ve recorded. Granted they’ve released some songs here an there that I’m not too fond of, In the end I’ve always regarded them to be a solid band with solid songs. I’ve never let that bias get in the way of my opinion though. A dud is a dud and I’ve never held my tongue in calling something what it is.
Against Me! have always been a polarizing band blessed with the gift of thick skin. In the nine years since the release of Reinventing Axl Rose, legions of fans have come and gone based on the choices the band has made. Their detractors have very vocally (or otherwise) let their opinions be heard while they (AM!) have continued to plug away and do what they’ve always done best: writing and recording new material, pounding the pavement, and playing a great many shows all over the world. They’ve been criticized for how their sound has “changed” over the years and scrutinized for not abiding by statements that they made before they were even of legal drinking age. To say that I admire their “come along for the ride or get out-of-the-way” attitude would be an understatement.
With all of that said, on the 14th of June, Against Me! released the Russian Spies/Occult Enemies EP via Sabot Productions, and I’ve got to say that it’s really good. So what can you expect? Russian Spies and Occult Enemies have a lot in common with their more recent material, however there is a definite melodic punk (ala Leatherface, especially on Occult Enemies) influence on these songs. They’re similar to but not clones of the songs on New Wave or White Crosses which seemed to be more “rock” oriented. Lyrically, both songs are somewhat abstract and definitely open to interpretation. Perhaps reading those lyrics here will give you a better idea. In the end, this tangent/review cannot do the songs on this slab of vinyl justice. That’s why you should check them, or at least one of the songs, out for yourself. Luckily if you open this link here you can hear Russian Spies. In my honest opinion, this is worthy of the $4.00 asking price.
Some of you might can tell that I changed the look of things. I’m still in the midst of tinkering with other things on this here site, so bear with me por favor. In other news, I’ve been tapped to contribute to http://www.raysbaseball.co also affectionately known as the “Unauthorized, Unadulterated, Illicit, Site of the Tampa Bay Rays fans. It’s a pretty cool site, check it out! I’ll be splitting my time between this and that site, and real life.
Prior to the major budget crunches of the last few years, most classrooms had their own computer (or computers) with at least one printer. Costly to any school district? Probably. Convenient to the students or teachers that dwell in any given classroom for 180 days out of the year? Most definitely. Nowadays you’d be lucky to find one central printer split among any given grade level team, or inhabitants of any given pod. This, as you can imagine, can make things a bit cumbersome from time to time, especially when matters of a dwindling paper or ink supply are taken into consideration. Tempers flare, hurtful words are uttered audibly or under breaths, and lines are drawn in the sand.
Of course there were printer issues this year, however I was lucky enough to be a part of a really great team, so no flared tempers were projected in my direction…well, at least none that I could discern. In the spirit of full disclosure, I’m not the most socially aware person and things can easily slip beneath my radar without my knowledge. I am, however, a fairly good judge of character and I didn’t really notice any coworker weirdness so I think things were OK. Things can still get a bit hairy even when you are on a really good team though, and it’s probably in your best interest to not get yourself into any really stupid situations. That is to say don’t make too many copies, and if you’re the last person at the printer when it runs out of paper, refill it. You, unfortunately, don’t always get the opportunity to be a part of a really good team and unless you have your own printer, you’re potentially going to be a participant in some pretty stupid scenarios.
A few years ago I had the “opportunity” to be the fifth grade team leader. My team was composed of three evenly keeled individuals, and one very vocal, disaffected pile of bones, skin, tendons and muscles. Most of the meetings that I had the pleasure of hosting degenerated into large gripe festivals that would last an hour and a half on average, finding no resolution to any of the important issues that we were expected to hash out. And since most of these meetings took place in my classroom, I was expected to stay for the duration. There really was no pleasure to be found in these meetings, nor any glory in being the team leader. To compound things, the team printer was in my room, something that outwardly doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. However, at the hands of the very vocal, disaffected pile of bones, skin, tendons and muscles, things got hairy. To be fair to her, she did have an amazing ability to transform the most minute of situations into those worthy of bombing other countries over.
I did my best to accommodate the whole team with the printer; When the toner ran low, I’d take care of it. If we ran out of paper, I’d get a new ream. And if I was the last person to print something, I’d refill the tray. On most occasions I’d refill it after someone else emptied the tray, though technically, I didn’t have to. More so, I needed to print of things as well and no one else was bursting through the door to take care of things. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that being accommodating in this fashion required great effort in any way. It, however, became expected of me by others to do their share though the understanding (tacit or otherwise) had always been to be responsible for yourself. I eventually acquired the tag of team impediment by that very vocal, disaffected pile of bones, skin, tendons and muscles. Great.
I will say that this very vocal, disaffected pile of bones, skin, tendons and muscles acquired a reputation of her own. That reputation? She was very hard work with, in general. She also garnered a reputation of being a pugnacious pot stirrer, and of being an enormous pain in the ass to the other coworkers. This is to say that she wasn’t the easiest person to work with especially in such close proximity. She also happened to be the loudest proponent of my inherent laziness in not restocking the paper cache in a timely or frequent enough basis, though she was the one using the lot share of the paper. Why she was so loud and emphatic about maintaining a certain level of paper is interesting in and of itself. Let me take you back to a time and a place; indulge me if you will.
…There I was in my classroom. It was late in the day, just minutes shy of when I’d break camp. She (the very vocal, disaffected pile of bones, skin, tendons and muscles of course) exploded through my wall like the Kool-Aid Man or the Schlitz Bull with a mind full of virulence, and a mouth full of venom, demanding that I restock the paper tray. My response? It’s the teams paper tray, and we’re all responsible to fill it when we empty it. I mean, it’s just common courtesy, right? I reminded her that she’s more than welcome to come into my class and refill the tray any time. However, she didn’t like my response one bit. Spit flew as she angrily told me that the printer was in my room therefore I should refill it, and stormed out of the room. To be fair, her request wasn’t that big of a deal but how she approached me was, and from there I made no consolation to help her in any way. I wiped the rabid slobber off of my face, and went home.
A fighter by nature, she decided to pull her trump card and tell the principal and tech coordinator how much of a prick I was the next day. You see though, she was very unkind to, and demanding of, the majority of the staff at that school. She was so much of a pain that they (the principal and tech coordinator) took her complaint with a grain of salt, and really did nothing about it save for a slap on the wrist dished out with the least amount of concern possible. I refilled the paper tray and took care of business for the day. At the end of the day, the gods placed a present in my printing tray; a present that fully illuminated why she made such a big deal about things in the first place.
There, in my paper tray, was a printout of the very vocal, disaffected pile of bones, skin, tendons and muscles match.com profile, and potential love connections, including those of whom she’d possibly be going out on a date with that very weekend. In a nutshell, she was upset that I didn’t refill the printer with a reasonable amount of paper (after she used it all mind you) so she could print out her internet dating hits! And of course I responded in the most reasonable way that I knew: I made copies of the papers of which I gave to the principal, and left the originals in the printer so she could retrieve them. Suffice to say, you’re not supposed to troll dating sites at work much less print off your findings. The principal handled it from there and I smugly walked away with a shit eating grin plastered all over my face.
In the end, I wasn’t really fond of the very vocal, disaffected pile of bones, skin, tendons and muscles in the first place so no love was lost when our relationship degraded to that of mutual disdain for one another.