SBD/March 4, 2013/Franchises

MLBPA's Weiner: Neither Relocation Nor Contraction Are Options For Rays

Attendance has been down at Rays games despite three recent playoff appearances
The Rays will likely enter the '13 season without much movement on a new ballpark, but MLBPA Exec Dir Michael Weiner said that "elimination of the franchise through contraction is not a likely outcome, nor has relocation outside of the Tampa Bay area been discussed,” according to Marc Topkin of the TAMPA BAY TIMES. Weiner said, “Contraction hasn’t come up since we had a fairly serious fight about it in 2000-01. I don’t think that's the solution.” Topkin noted contraction would be a “major issue with the union due to the loss of jobs.” MLB would “have to negotiate with the union to move a team." Weiner said that the topic "has not come up.” He added that he and the union, like MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, are “disappointed in the Rays low attendance, which was worst in the majors last season.” Weiner: “We’d love to see greater attendance. … It’s disappointing that their attendance hasn’t really responded. So just like the commissioner’s office, we’d like to see every team succeed. But when you have a team that frankly has succeeded on the field but less so in the box office, it is disappointing” (TAMPABAY.com, 3/2).

AGAINST THE GRAIN
: USA TODAY’s Paul White notes the “low-revenue, small-market team has averaged 92 victories the last five seasons in the American League East with three playoff appearances.” Rays Exec VP/Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman and the “outside-the-box think tank that is the Rays front office carefully guard their secrets," but the daily "reality is a recipe rooted in the anti-establishment rebelliousness of their manager's youth, with a strong dose of people skills and one surprise ingredient.” The Rays “do it with what manager Joe Maddon says is roughly 50% baseball expertise and 50% common-sense approach to life.” But the team's formula is “approaching what's normally the expiration date for teams in similar situations” (USA TODAY, 3/4).
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