BOB: A new chapter in the spring training wars

Florida approves spring training measure

Over the last few years, we’ve seen a few defections from Florida’s Grapefruit League to Arizona’s Cactus League. While the moves have slowed down the past couple of years, the state of Florida wants to make sure it doesn’t happen again, and Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a development package that will funnel state money to cities that are looking to keep or draw spring training schedules to their venues.

The deal included a back-to-school sales tax holiday, and it also created new rules for spring training funding within the Department of Economic Opportunity. It offers more than $650,000 a year in sales tax revenue for stadium upgrades or construction, and this could go up to more than $1.3 million if the city tries to draw two teams.

The incentive program also requires teams to sign on for a minimum of 20 years. Of course, one of the problems with the bill is its timing. Right now, there are no pending defections, and it looks like any movement will be between cities in the state of Florida.

Tampa mayor speaks out on Rays’ stadium

It looks like the Tampa Bay Rays aren’t the only side of their stadium discussion getting impatient. Last week, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said the stalemate has gone on too long, but he says there might be light at the end of the tunnel because of a growing sense of urgency (although he doesn’t say by whom) and that he expects movement this summer.

Buckhorn was also cautious in his comments because St. Petersburg, which is looking to keep the Rays in town—with their current lease at Tropicana Field as their hammer—has been quick to claim tampering. Buckhorn also said that if the Rays are allowed to look elsewhere, the he and the city of Tampa will be ready.

Cubs show mock Jumbotron

The Chicago Cubs put up a Jumbotron mockup so everybody can see just what the perceived obstruction will and will not block when and if it’s finally constructed. Cubs owner Tom Ricketts said it was about what he expected and that the blockage will be minimal. He also said he wasn’t worried about the pace of the process for getting the renovations passed and completed.

One of the nearby rooftop owners, Beth Murphy, said that, while the sign was big and would block the view from some of the rooftops, it didn’t block hers. Left field is more of a concern where a new scoreboard is going up and is expected to block some of the rooftops on that side of the stadium

Dr. Lewis Yocum passes at age 65

Dr. Lewis Yocum, the longtime Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim team orthopedist, passed away at age 65. Yocum is widely viewed as one of the most noted practitioners of sports medicine, and he’s best known for developing Tommy John surgery, which has become a mainstay in the baseball medical profession.

Earlier in the month, the Angels had renamed their training room the “Dr. Lewis Yocum Athletic Training Room.” Since being diagnosed with cancer, Yocum had cut down on his work. His legacy was praised by both the Angels and MLB commissioner Bud Selig.

Biloxi looks to land minor league team

The city of Biloxi, Miss., with the help of Overtime Sports’ director Tim Bennett and his ownership team, appears to be very close to landing a Southern League team. Bennett has the city on board, and they’re willing to pony up $21 million for a new stadium.

One of the interesting points is that the land for the stadium is being leased from a local casino, so the parties had to make sure they didn’t cross the line into a gambling association. But since the casino will have no interest in the team, they’ll be fine.

Now the group just has to land a team. The Huntsville Stars are an option because they’ve been at the bottom of the attendance list in the Southern League. There’s also been talk about the Jackson Generals, but they have eight years left on their lease.

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