Before the first pitch on Sunday’s Opening Day, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred discussed his support of the Tampa Bay baseball market. Commissioner Manfred stated his support to the area and to the Rays ownership group, while citing the Rays positive TV ratings and emphasizing the idea that Tropicana Field is in a bad location.
Manfred also said his role is to support when needed. On a personal note, this reminded me of an interview I did with the President of Minor League Baseball a few years ago. Pres Pat O’Conner told me his role was to ask teams “What do you need and how can I help?”. It was to use the muscle of Minor League Baseball Headquarters to facilitate. That is what Rob Manfred says his job is as well.
Of course, this does not include funds from MLB to pay for a new stadium, which might help especially considering MLB is highly profitable and funding for new ballpark would probably come from taxpayers’ wallets.
My one critique: Manfred said Stu Sternberg knows the local politics of Tampa Bay better than Manfred because Sternberg is “there everyday”. While Brian Auld and other Rays front office folks are in the area, Stu Sternberg is not in Tampa Bay every day. As a matter of fact, he is routinely closer to Commissioner Manfred in New York than his team in St. Petersburg.
Since becoming commissioner, Rob Manfred has talked highly of the Tampa Bay baseball market several times, and has done several actions to help the Rays, to include picking the team to go to Cuba and nixing the Braves idea of spring training in the Rays’ backyard.
What he has never mentioned however, is how Tampa Bay is host to more professional baseball games than any other area in the nation. He also never mentions how Spring Training is successful in Tampa Bay, how four minor league teams call the area home, and how combined, baseball in Tampa Bay has had a total attendance over two million 10 years in a row.
That would be nice to hear.