Does MLB Commissioner Bud Selig have an agenda when ripping Tampa Bay Rays attendance?

7:25 PM, Jul 11, 2012   |    comments
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ST. PETERSBURG, Florida -- Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig back at it again, ripping the Rays attendance issues by calling the situation "inexcusable" and "disappointing."

But does Selig have an agenda with his comments about empty seats?

"I think he really covets the Tampa-St. Petersburg market.  I think he loves the market," said Bill Sutton, sports management professor at USF, with 30 years of experience in the field.

Sutton says Selig may realize he's backed into a corner a little bit without many attractive cities to move the Rays to. Therefore his best option is to make it work in Tampa Bay with a new stadium.

"If you are going to be sustainable over the long-term of the franchise, you have to have more revenue and you have to have more revenue streams," Sutton said.

But while the Rays attendance currently ranks 29th out of 30 MLB teams, it is up about 1,700 fans per game over last year.

At the same time, Selig doesn't mention Cleveland... which ranks 30th and is down 3,400 fans per game, despite having a winning team.

He also doesn't bring up Chicago, which is seeing a drop off, despite the first place White Sox.

Tom Krasniqi, radio host at 620 WDAE, says it's time for the commissioner to stop talking about Tampa Bay and start taking action.

"MLB needs to get involved.  They need to facilitate the process and help the Rays get out of the lease.  And they also need to facilitate the process in helping the Rays get a new stadium," Krasniqi said.

But is the attendance really a problem? According to Forbes, the team makes $26 million per year in profit.

In addition, since Stu Sternberg took over majority ownership of the club, the value of the franchise has nearly doubled.

"He knows he can make a lot more money by having a new ballpark," Krasniqi said.

That's why it shouldn't come as a surprise if the commissioner speaks out again in the future.

10 News reached out to St. Pete mayor Bill Foster, who didn't want to comment because he says "nothing has changed."

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