BOB: Stadium report

St. Petersburg plays legal trump card in stadium battle

The city of St. Petersburg fired a major shot over the bow of both the Tampa Bay Rays and Hillsborough County when it made public its threat to sue if any Hillsborough County official discusses stadium locations with the Tampa Bay Rays. This came about in a letter from St. Petersburg’s attorney to the Hillsborough County attorney, and it came in response to an invitation to the Rays from Hillsborough County back in August to talk baseball. A meeting date hadn’t been set yet but this letter adds a new dimension to the discussions.

Hillsborough County had concluded that it was within its rights to have a baseball discussion with the Rays, and while the county doesn’t appear to be backing down, it also don’t appear to be pressing the issue. For now, it looks like this big game of chicken will continue, but the Rays’ owners have made it clear that they want a new ballpark and they’re not willing to talk to St. Petersburg about it until the city lets them talk to other cities.

Oakland Athletics calling a time out in stadium drama

Reporters began talking a couple of weeks ago about rumors that the Oakland Athletics were looking to extend their lease at the Oakland Coliseum through the 2018 season. With no resolution on the horizon on the San Jose stadium move issue, it looks like owner Lew Wolff is throwing in the red flag to at least buy himself some more time to find a better stadium situation. This was confirmed in an interview with where he was asked about an extension and he said simply that they wanted a few more years on their lease there.

Wolff wouldn’t say exactly how long he’d want an extension, but you figure with their current lease ending in 2013 and with it usually taking a couple of years to build a ballpark, five years is a nice number to get everything resolved and get the new construction going. The San Francisco Giants, who have the territory rights to the San Jose area, are as hot as ever with their second World Series appearance in three years, and they continue to have the leverage, so it’s nice seeing what’s effectively a time out in the back and forth between the Athletics, San Jose, the Giants and the league.

Yankees fail both in playoffs and at the stadium gate

A big deal has been made about how the New York Yankees, with their rich baseball history, fell well short of sellout crowds in their last three home playoff games. Game 2 against the Detroit Tigers saw 47,082 tickets sold; this was the third straight game with less than 47,200. While a healthy crowd in most ballparks, Yankee Stadium holds a little more then 50,000, and the empty seats were noticeable. Ushers were apparently also told to move fans down from the upper decks to fill in empty seats.

Reasons abound for why this happened. Top on the list is that the Yankees just charge too much for their tickets and the ones that were left unsold weren’t desirable tickets. It could also be success fatigue. I’ve seen it here in Detroit with the Detroit Red Wings where just getting to the playoffs becomes a formality. Third-party ticket brokers were also blamed, but that seems to be a hollow excuse because it still means fewer people are going to the game.

Padres to move Petco’s fences

Known for being the most extreme pitchers’ park in baseball, the San Diego Padres have announced that they plan on moving in the fences in both right field and left center field. This will go along with a renovation that will move the visitor’s bullpen from the right field foul territory to behind the Padres’ bullpen out in left center field

In left center, the fences will be moved in from 402 to 390. Right center will be moved in from 402 to 391 while the left-field line, the right-field line and straight-away center will all stay the same. Those are still some deep fences, so it’ll be interesting to see if Petco will continue to be a place where pitchers come to rejuvenate their careers.

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