In his annual MLB All-Star Game press remarks, Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed a preference for Tampa over St. Pete in the new Rays ballpark quest, and yet again reiterated the need for a new Oakland A’s ballpark.
The preference seems to have been expressed a little off-the-cuff for Manfred, who admits he has not talked with Rays owner Stuart Sternberg recently. And saying the From AP:
“I have always thought that a stadium on the other side of the causeway would be preferable in some respects,” Manfred told the Baseball Writers’ Association of America on Tuesday before the All-Star Game. “But there’s a variety of factors that have to be taken into account in terms of determining whether you’re going to be in St. Pete or in Tampa: What financing is available? What sites are available? How quickly you can get in the ground? It’s not just the location.”
While St. Petersburg has made the most recent headlines about keeping the Rays, there’s still an effort underway to lure the team to Tampa. And while there’s general consensus about Tampa being a better choice, it may be that the Rays may not have the choice of a Tampa ballpark and instead the options being St. Petersburg or a new market.
Manfred expressing concern about the state and pace of talks for a new Oakland Athletics ballpark isn’t exactly new–it’s a concern expressed every few weeks in public and undoubtedly more often in MLB offices. The timing isn’t great, as the A’s have built up some momentum in gaining regulatory approvals for the $12-billion Howard Terminal complex. Here’s what he said today, per the Washington Post:
“Mayor Schaaf continues to work hard to try to get an arrangement, an agreement to develop the Howard Terminal site,” Manfred said. “I’m hopeful that that can still happen. And I said this recently and I’ll repeat, it needs to happen now. It needs to be done.”….
“I think Oakland, the A’s, face an extraordinarily difficult situation. John Fisher has invested literally tens of millions of dollars over the entire period of my commissionership in an effort to get a stadium done in Oakland,” Manfred said. “I think that negativity always accompanies the situation where players are traded and a club for whatever set of reasons decides to start over. But I think bigger picture, John is committed and has invested really significant dollars in trying to get baseball in Oakland on an even footing, a sustainable footing over the long haul.”
Having said that, as the negotiators work out a deal with government officials for the development, the team has not done any favors by slashing payroll and putting a less-than-competitive team on the field. And reminding everyone that he’s making weekly Las Vegas runs is a little ham-handed on the part of A’s President Dave Kaval. Big projects take big time, and even if a new ballpark were taking out of the Howard Terminal plan, it would still take years of planning and approvals to make a $12-billion work in California. If time was really of the essence, such a historically large plan would not have been submitted.
Then again, we’re probably making more of Manfred’s comments than is really there. They don’t really impact the ongoing talks in both Oakland and Tampa, and they certainly don’t foretell an impending move from either team. We’re hearing increasing calls for a resolution to both situations mostly because MLB wants them resolved before muddying the water with expansion talk.
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