SBD/Issue 242/Franchises

Rays Owner Sternberg Says Kazmir Trade Was Financial Decision

Rays Owner Stuart Sternberg yesterday indicated that last week's trade of P Scott Kazmir to the Angels is an "example of the kind of decisions the Rays have, and will continue, to make to 'live within our means,'" according to Smith & Topkin of the ST. PETERSBURG TIMES. Sternberg said that the trade, which saved the Rays around $24M and netted them three prospects, was a "'reallocation of resources' that provides flexibility and 'allows us to get new resources in and reallocate other resources.'" Sternberg: "This is what we do. This is who we are and this is what we do. People better get used to it, because it's going to continue." Sternberg insisted that the move "should not be taken as any sign of surrender." But he said of fans upset by the trade, "If I were a casual fan or a real fan of the team, I'd feel the same thing" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 9/3). Sternberg yesterday also addressed several other issues facing the team, stressing the small-market Rays "have to look at things differently than, clearly, the Yankees or Red Sox do." But he added, "We have to look at things in the same way a lot of things do. They’re hard choices, they’re hard decisions to make sometimes, but you’ve got to be an adult about it and make it.” Tuesday's Red Sox-Rays crowd of 17,692 at Tropicana Field was the "smallest to see a Rays-Red Sox game in more than two years," and Sternberg said, "We could have expected a few more fans." Sternberg said of the small crowds this season, "Everything that happens changes how I feel. All it is is input and it's constantly a work in progress. If every game was sold out in the month of September, it would change the way I would think then" (BRADENTON HERALD, 9/3). 

WHERE'S THE FAN SUPPORT? In St. Petersburg, John Romano wrote if fans want the Rays to "field a team with a competitive payroll, the community has to do better than 17,000 fans against a marquee team in the middle of a pennant race." There are "no excuses" and "no alibis." Other markets are "drawing far more, and Tampa Bay is going to have to do better if it wants to stay viable" (TAMPABAY.com, 9/2). Also in St. Petersburg, Gary Shelton writes if Sternberg is "frustrated by all he has seen, and by all he has not, he is doing a swell job of hiding it." Sternberg said that he "still believes in the Tampa Bay market" and "hasn't had a day's regret from buying the team." But Shelton wonders, "When you looked at the attendance figures, wouldn't you question if this franchise could survive without a new stadium? Or, for that matter, even with one?" With the team's current attendance figures, "how long before other cities begin to call?" How long "before he listens?" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 9/3). ESPN's Tony Kornheiser called the attendance for Tuesday night’s game “stunning” ("PTI," ESPN, 8/2).  ESPN's Rick Sutcliffe during last night’s Red Sox-Rays game said, "Thank goodness that the Red Sox draw here in St. Petersburg because the Rays certainly have not been doing that this year." ESPN's Dave O'Brien said, “In these surrounding parts, you've got the NFL and college football starting soon. It almost feels like the fan base has turned its attention that way.” O'Brien: "In this economy, I don’t want to tell anybody how to spend their hard-earned dollars ... but it is unusual for a World Series team to come back the next year and to not even draw anywhere near the Major League average and they've played well at home" ("Red Sox-Rays," ESPN, 8/2).

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