Owner Stuart Sternberg comments taken out of context

While I was getting ready for take my wife out for breakfast over the weekend, I saw a teaser on Fox 13, our go-to morning news show. It quoted Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg as saying: “I’ll go halfsies” on new stadium’s $800M price tag — if we can get naming rights.”

Wow!

Did he really say that though?

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to stick around to watch the actual report. Because, you know, breakfast and such. Pancakes over bonds. I was of course skeptical. Who has time to watch a whole interview anyway?

But then you go read the quotes —

Sternberg reiterated that a new stadium likely would cost around $800 million, but added that the price could go up with each passing year. Last November, Sternberg told the Times that the Rays would be willing to chip in $150 million, but said again Thursday that the number was just an “estimation” and a “signpost.” […]

“If somebody wants to walk in with $25 million naming rights tomorrow my number of $150 (million) goes up dramatically,” Sternberg said. “So, yeah, I’ll get you to $400 (million). You get me $25 million a year in stadium naming rights and get me to $400, I’ll go halfsies.”

— and that sounds a bit more … well, reasonable. But we’re still missing some context! And for that, we leave it to Tom Jones to give us some honest reporting.

Well, that’s a boring url. That’s no way to get clicks, Tom!

Basically, here’s deal:

  1. The Rays’ financial commitment has never been set in stone. Both the $800M for the park and the $150M contribution from the Rays are swags based on the information we have available.
  2. The price could go up (and probably will). The Rays’ share could go up. Nobody actually knows at this point.
  3. But we need to talk about something, so let’s put a microphone in front of Stu and see what happens.
  4. If you hate public financing of stadiums, you will hate just about any deal, not because the Rays in particular are greedy, but because this is how the modern sports landscape works.
  5. But sure, if Stu’s rich uncle dies and gives him a ridiculous naming rights deal like the Metshave in the largest, wealthiest city in the country, well then, uh, yeah, he’d go halfsies. Why the heck not?
  6. Heck, if two rich uncles died, he just might pay for the whole thing.
  7. lol just kidding on that last one.
  8. And in case you weren’t sure, none of this is really news.

Noah Pransky over at Shadow of the Stadium of course takes issue with the public discourse on this quote, and annoyingly but rightfully so:

Sternberg was comparing the Rays future stadium to a situation in New York City. It’s a metaphor for what could be, and by no means a demand.

So, in sum: we don’t know what the stadium will cost (but it will be a lot); we don’t know how much Sternberg & co will contribute (but it won’t be 100%); we don’t know how the city/county/state might come up with any public contribution (but it will be controversial); and we know Ybor City is not New York City.

What’s next?

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