BOB: Stadium Update Galore

Tampa Bay changes name, logo, unveils stadium plans

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays were busy last week. They changed their name to the Tampa Bay Rays and they also introduced a new logo with different team colors. In an interesting article at the Tampa Tribune, Marc Lancaster runs through all that went into the name change including how they narrowed it down, as well as what kind of marketing research they did to make sure the fans would buy into the new brand.

In addition, the Rays unveiled their plans for a new, $450 million, open-air ballpark on St. Petersburg’s waterfront. The hope is to have the stadium built for the 2012 season, but with this being little more than an idea and with the Florida Marlins first in line, I find it hard to believe that the time table will be adhered to. The ballpark will be built on the site of the Rays’ current spring training facility, Al Lang Field and the team has pledged to put up $150 million of the costs. Like the Marlins, they’re going to also look for $60 million in sales tax rebates; just like the situation with the Marlins, I can see that as being the major sticking point.

The largest source of funding could come from the Rays’ current home. The team hopes to raise the bulk of the funds for the new stadium from the sale and redevelopment of Tropicana Field.

Progress continues on Washington Nationals’ stadium

Work on the Washington Nationals’ stadium continued last week, and the latest addition to the ballpark was that sod has now been installed. Unlike RFK Stadium’s Bermuda grass, the new stadium has longer Kentucky bluegrass, as its turf and the grass was grown on a farm in New Jersey for 13 months prior to being installed in the stadium

As it stands, there are close to 900 workers going to town at the site to get it ready for the Nationals’ opening day in 2008. The D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission hopes to unveil the field officially this week.

Dodgers, Vero Beach at Odds Over Trip to China

Indian River County recently notified the Los Angeles Dodgers and said that if they don’t comply with their lease and “play not less then 10 home games with a full team presence,” that they’ll void their lease with the team. The issue is that the Dodgers may cut their final spring season at Dodgertown short to play some exhibition games in China in 2008. In addition, the county is upset at the Dodgers by not guaranteeing its departure, which prevents the county from finding a replacement team for the 2009 season. The Dodgers have told the county that they wouldn’t know whether they’d be vacating Dodgertown until December 17, 2007 when contractors who are working on their new spring training home in Arizona must promise when the new facility will open.

In the meantime, the Dodgers do hold a hammer. If the county voids their lease, it will give the Dodgers the ability to just walk away or, if they want, they could buy the property at fair market value and later sell it. If the Dodgers decide to sell to a developer who eventually razes the complex, it’ll prevent another team from moving in.

Athletics file plans for new ballpark

Last week, the Athletics finally took their first step with the city of Fremont by submitting their plans for a $1.8 billion ballpark village that includes the Athletics prospective new stadium. The development would be the largest ever in Fremont, Calif. and the village would include the $500 million ballpark, high end retail, shops, restaurants and residential housing.

The next step is for the city to hire a consultant to perform the environmental impact report. That could take upwards of a year or longer. Regardless, it looks like the city is excited by the prospect of the development. One primary is concern is the lack of nearby mass transit, but the Athletics have said they’ll work with the particular parties to alleviate those concerns.

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