MLB History Shows The Rays Are Not Moving Anywhere Soon

Rays will be here for a while because the MLB moves slow when it comes to relocation.

Rays will staying here for a while. AP-PHOTO


Okay, the Tampa Rays did not get the stadium in Ybor City which on paper made a great deal of sense. The Rays owner Stu Sternberg talked about a commitment to keeping the team in the Bay Area as they begin yet another hunt for a new home to replace Tropicana Field.

Meanwhile, many so-called experts have already started speculating on where the team will move. Take a deep breath and hold on a minute and understand that of all the sports leagues located here in the good old USA it should be noted that Major League Baseball has moved franchises only 13 times since back in 1902 the Milwaukee Brewers to St. Louis and became the Browns.

So how does Major League Baseball teams make their money?

Let’s begin with shared revenue that come from national television deals. At the moment Tampa Bay represents the 12th largest television market in the country and the Rays also through territorial rights own the rights to the Orlando -Melbourne the 18th largest market.

The Rays represent a major part of the national television component for all of their media deals from TV to digital rights.

Locally again television deals are key and because of their location a new Fox’s payout is expected to increase to around $50 million in 2019 under the new contract. Over the 15-year life of the deal, which would run through the 2033 season, Fox would pay, on average, around $82 million per year as first reported by my old employer Sports Business Journal. Even by my Lutz Elementary School education puts the deal at around $1 billion over the life of the deal.

Yes, butts in the seats are meaningful and corporate partners to buy luxury suites as well as season ticket sales. Merchandise sales account for a good a steady cash stream

Finding a new stadium for the Rays could make sense in St. Petersburg maybe at the old Derby Lane site. There could be a park built on a waterfront area with commercial and residential development might make sense.

It could look a great deal what the Oakland A’s the other team in the same position as the Tampa Bay. Oakland has a waterfront stadium proposal that wasn’t their first, second or for that matter their third choice.

But that said it is a nice plan that might get done and while I agree with my friend Andy Zimbalist the top sports economist that you need to be within an hour of at least 50 percent of your market, a new park over on Gandy Boulevard might be worth a look.

So, at the moment MLB has no real need to move the team because Charlotte, Nashville, and Portland are way too small to help bring big money in a TV deal either national or local.

Forget Las Vegas because the NHL and the NFL have taken up all the space that Sin City can support at this point. Montreal is worth watching for a couple of reasons.

MLB didn’t really want to leave that market but the ownership deals there was a total mess. We know that they are not there when it comes to a new ballpark.

But over the next ten years’ things can change. Here are the 12 other times baseball has seen fit to move a franchise.

1903 the Baltimore Orioles moved to New York City and became the Highlanders.

1953 the Boston Braves moved to the Midwest to become the Milwaukee Braves.

1954 it was the St. Louis Browns heading East and once again to Baltimore Orioles a place in Charm City.

1955 it was time for the Philadelphia Athletics to pack up their bats and head to Kansas City and keep the Athletics name.

In 1958 there were two New York teams heading West as Brooklyn Dodgers landed in Los Angeles while the Giants found a new home in San Francisco.

In 1961 the first of two moves of the Washington Senators and this time it was to Minnesota. In 1972 the Washington Senators, 2.0 were sent to Texas because of wanting to serve the Dallas market.

In 1966 another move to take advantage of a growing market baseball saw the Milwaukee Braves head South to Atlanta.

In 1968 it was time to add another team to the other Bay Area as Kansas City Athletics moved to east bay as the Oakland Athletics.

1970 it was a one-year experiment sending the Seattle Pilots back to Milwaukee as the newly minted Brewers.

2005 Montreal Expos was moved to Washington and they became the Nationals.










Jim Williams is the Washington Bureau Chief, Digital Director as well as the Director of Special Projects for Genesis Communications. He is starting his third year as part of the team. This is Williams 40th year in the media business, and in that time he has served in a number of capacities. He is a seven time Emmy Award winning television producer, director, writer and executive. He has developed four regional sports networks, directed over 2,000 live sporting events including basketball, football, baseball hockey, soccer and even polo to name a few sports. Major events include three Olympic Games, two World Cups, two World Series, six NBA Playoffs, four Stanley Cup Playoffs, four NCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship Tournaments (March Madness), two Super Bowl and over a dozen college bowl games. On the entertainment side Williams was involved s and directed over 500 concerts for Showtime, Pay Per View and MTV Networks.