As reported by Noah Pransky via twitter, last week the Toronto Blue Jays met with Pinellas County officials to discuss extending the Jays spring training home.
I’ve been critical of a Blue Jays extension for some time. I wrote a lengthy piece on Fangraphs.com last year that stated why an extension was not in the best interest of Tampa Bay. Noah Pransky’s website has also been critical, as has Tom Rask of DunedinReporter.com.
Those who support the extension are Dunedin city officials, which is to be expected.
According to Pransky’s tweets, Pinellas County commissioners didn’t seem as optimistic as their counterparts in the small town of Dunedin. Commissioner Charlie Gerdes told the Jays they needed expected financials and Janet Long said the Jays were not putting in as much money as public dollars.
Fortunately, we are starting to see a least a little bit of pushback against sports teams recently. Whether this is all show by politicians has yet to be seen. But this does allow the Pinellas County Commissioners to be “the bad guy” in the City of Dunedin’s battle to keep baseball. Either the Dunedin mayor will point to the commissioners and say “they are the reason the Jays left” or she will say “despite pushback from the commissioners, I helped keep the Jays”. It is a win-win for Mayor Bujalski.
There was also this interesting quote in a recent StPetersblog article:
Pro teams, with their highly paid legal talent, too often take advantage of local officials, Republican Michael Bileca said.
Teams should not fall for the emotional plea of how long teams have been in small towns. Even the most loyal fan should know the Blue Jays would move somewhere better if they thought they could get a better deal and make more money somewhere else. As a reminder, the Dodgers were in Vero Beach from the 1940s to 2008 then they left. Loyalty means nothing in sports business.
The Pinellas County Commission will continue meeting with the Blue Jays in the next few weeks. This website maintains that until the Rays situation is settled, the region is better off without the Blue Jays.