Sunday, November 19, 2017

The 2018-2019 Baseball Third Season has officially begun

There is plenty of money available in Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties to do this deal.


St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog.

I have defined the Tampa Bay Baseball "Third Season" as that time between the last world series game and the start of the spring training media hype or roughly late October to late February.

This is the time when the Rays usually beat the drum loudly complaining about poor attendance blaming it on Tropicana Field and lack luster appreciation of the sport by the local population.

With the dawn of 2018, the Rays have just nine years left on their lease agreement with the City of St. Petersburg. That may sound like a long time but when it comes to new stadiums, the time window from start to first pitch could consume most of that time.

Tampa and the Baseball interest group, more or less headed by Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagen, has been busily looking for sites for a new stadium, and it looks like they have settled on a site at the edge of Ybor City.

Stu Sternberg and the Rays played coy at the initial announcement offering: “This is another step in the site selection process, and we are grateful for the time and attention that went into making it an option, along with those in Pinellas County, including the Tropicana Field site as a potential future home for Rays Baseball in Tampa Bay for generations to come."

Here is a peek at a concept drawing for the new Rays home from the Tampa Bay Times by Adam Sanford: This is what the new Rays Ybor stadium could look like.

Now that a Tampa site appears to be firmed up the next big issue is money

Sternberg, after waiting to see if the $100,000 contribution to the Kriseman campaign in the St. Pete Mayoral race would pay off, threw Tampa the first pitch of the Third Season, a low and outside slider offering to pony up about $150 million.

That leaves Tampa and Hillsborough County with about $600 to $700 million to find. For some details see: Marc Tompkin, Tampa Bay Times Staff Writer: Sternberg: Tampa Bay Rays' share of new ballpark could be $150 million.

There is plenty of money available in Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties to do this deal. And yes, there are some big players in Pinellas County that would gladly “help” the Rays exit the Trop site.

I think the key in all of this is Major League Baseball. The league and the owners do not want the Rays in St. Pete. That has long been clear.

MLB could remove a lot of the fog around this deal if they simply said we will not support a new stadium in St. Pete regardless of the deal – the Rays are moving. That would clear the deck for Hillsborough County and Tampa, but it might be taking away a bargaining chip for Sternberg, so such a pronouncement is unlikely.

Kriseman could also put an end to what will be a messy negotiation, by simply saying there is a better use for the 80 plus acers on the Tropicana Field site than Baseball, so Rays/MLB if you want to build and completely pay for a new smaller stadium on the site, we will hold a parcel for that project as we prepare our redevelopment plans.

Also, unlikely - but just for the moment.
There will be a lot of pressure on Kriseman to put together a competitive bid, offering to put up some money from the City and Pinellas County so Sternberg has some leverage, but that is just smoke and mirrors because MLB, and the owners will never go along with a St. Pete deal.

Time is wasting. This Third Season only lasts until Spring Training starts ramping up in late February, so all parties need to get moving.

Commissioner Hagen and his group need to take a cautious look at Sternberg’s first pitch. Take it as a ball or better yet foul it off. There are better pitches coming.

I seriously doubt much will happen in this Third Season. It will be a lot like watching two Great Blue Herons mate. A lot of wings flapping, some careful dancing, a few coy looks but not much action.

E-mail Doc at mail to: dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (E. Eugene Webb) Friend request. Like or share on Facebook and follow me on TWITTER  @DOC ON THE BAY.

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Friday, November 17, 2017

Kriseman VS Baker an Epilog

Ignored by both campaigns were the Hispanic voters and the growing Asian population.

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog.


Most of the post mortems on this race are in, and I think they all have it about right.

Here are two that capture the essence of the race.

Tampa Bay Times Adam C. Smith: 8 takeaways from the St. Pete mayor’s race


Florida Politics, Peter Schorsch, Would five words have save Rick Baker’s campaign?

I would only add a few of things.

I have known and worked for Rick Baker for a long time. You can go to my Blog Bay Post Internet put Rick Baker in the search box and see a number of posts.

What struck me most from the beginning was Rick Baker did not seem to be as excited about this race as two previous ones. He said all the right words, even worked up some emotion, but it seemed to me the real fire was just not there.

To capture it in a sentence it felt like it was more about getting Kriseman out of the Mayor’s office than Baker getting the job.

Second, I think the Baker campaign was strategically misfocused. Baker’s campaign put high emphasis in South St. Pete, I guess the assumption was the rest of the City’s Republicans would just come along. There were almost no rallies in West St. Pete and same for the Northeast.

When I spoke with the Baker campaign about this the response was “We don’t see a problem.” Perhaps they do now.

Also ignored by both campaigns were the Hispanic voters and the growing Asian population. Both of these groups have a strong entrepreneurial focus, and many are small-business owners in St. Petersburg. They have an interest in their communities, neighborhoods and schools.

Hispanics represent about 6.7% of the St. Petersburg population, and Asians represent about 3.3% of the population. A strong multi lingual message to both groups along with a voter-registration effort might just have turned the election.

Then, there is the issue of money. Every mailer, ad, phone call was an impassioned plea for donations even as the media reported massive amounts of money flowing into both campaigns from the outside.

I think the constant bleating for donations was major turn off too many voters and especially the millennials that may be registered voters but might not have the money to make a donation.

If they did not donate or vote, everyone lost.

Finally, there is the issue of Trump. A lot of people, especially Republicans, would like to hang this totally around Trump’s neck.

No doubt there is a cause and effect from the Trump Presidency, but I think there may be a bigger issue with the Republican Party and the elected Republicans in the US House and Senate that spend more time fighting with Trump in the media, and in Congress than they do working to solve the problems they so easily define.

We will know the answer to that issue in the 2018 midterms. I am not betting any money on Republican incumbents.

E-mail Doc at mail to: dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (E. Eugene Webb) Friend request. Like or share on Facebook and follow me on TWITTER  @DOC ON THE BAY.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Ferry Flounders Kriseman promises return

Water transportation in the Bay area will remain more of curiosity than a serious transportation option for the foreseeable future.


St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog


The Cross Bay Ferry will not be returning to the waters of Tampa Bay this season. See the details in a Tampa Bay Times article by Caitlin Johnston The Cross Bay Ferry won’t come back this fall. What about 2018?

The group promoting the ferry could not shore up the funding for the upcoming 2017 season. The notable holdout was the City of Tampa.

It seems Mayor Buckhorn did not share Mayor Kriseman’s fascination with the ferry and felt it should be funded by private dollars. That was enough to sink the project for this year.

The Johnston article points a number of other concerns, including the ongoing construction at the new St. Pete Pier, which may have forced a different docking location for the ferry.

While the Cross Bay Ferry had good weekend and evening, occupancy rates the daily ridership remained weak. It turns out the ferry was more of a pleasure ride service than a commuter service.

Buckhorn is right. If it turns out the Cross Bay Ferry is a tourist attraction, then it would be better funded by private dollars.

St. Petersburg has applied for a one-time grant from The Florida Department of Transportation for the 2018-2019 season and has been awarded just over $400,000 to help pay for the proposed season. That should help ease the burden on everyone involved.

Water transportation in the Bay area will remain more of curiosity than a serious transportation option for the foreseeable future.

Public funds like the FDOT $400,000 grant would be much better directed at transportation options that are more than pleasure boat rides. There is a lot of effort going on in the Tampa Bay area from driverless cars to self-driving buses.

This is a classic example of why public transportation is so disorganized in the Tampa Bay region. Every fiefdom has its own idea and charges off to get it funded.

All these pet transportation projects do is muddy the water and slow down serious progress.

E-mail Doc at mail to: dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (E. Eugene Webb) Friend request. Like or share on Facebook and follow me on TWITTER  @DOC ON THE BAY.


See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.

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