St. Petersburg Mayor Sees Little Marketing From Rays In Tampa Bay Area
St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster yesterday said that he "doesn't see the Tampa Bay Rays doing much to market the team in the Tampa Bay area," according to DeCamp & Van Sickler of the ST. PETERSBURG TIMES. But Pinellas County Commission Chair Susan Latvala said that Foster "went a step further when he called her Friday." Latvala recalled Foster saying to her, "I believe that they are deliberately trying to hurt the team financially by not promoting it adequately." Foster, who "has called himself the Rays' biggest cheerleader, questioned Latvala's version" of the conversation. Foster: "That's stupid, that's ludicrous. That was not said. I would challenge Susan to her face if she says I said that. She won't put words in my mouth." Latvala stood by her recollection of what Foster said to her Friday. The City Council today "will discuss Rays marketing and what the city can do to help, one week after its contentious discussion last week on the team's future." Latvala said that Foster told her the Rays "spent $500,000 on marketing, and it was on the low end" of MLB. Rays VP/Communications Rick Vaughn said the team spends "far in excess'' of $500,000 on marketing. He said, "Our budget for giveaway items alone exceeds that amount" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 10/27).
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD? In St. Petersburg, John Romano writes, "You probably shouldn't waste any time worrying about the Rays losing executive vice president Andrew Friedman before the 2012 season." Instead, "save your angst for 2013. Or 2015." Romano: "The reality is the franchise's uncertain future in Tampa Bay will lead to a lot of soul-searching for Friedman, and others in the organization, in the coming years. ... If the owner is talking about selling, if the commissioner is preaching gloom, if the market is not responding in unison, wouldn't you worry about future working conditions?" Friedman "works without a contract and is free to leave whenever he chooses." Romano continues, "What you have is a relationship that is unlike any other in baseball today. It is based on friendship, trust and shared experiences. It is a partnership just strong enough to encourage someone to walk away if it's in their best interests" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 10/27).