News Channel 8 story demonstrates much of what’s wrong with coverage of Rays stadium saga

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Noah Pransky pulls no punches in his latest post on the Shadow of the Stadium blog:

… its not easy filling a newscast on a Saturday night.  But last night, Tampa Bay’s WFLA-TV last night did the cliche “what would a new stadium mean for the Rays” story again.

There was no link to the story available online, but the gist of the story: Rays fans would go to more games if the stadium were closer to them:

  • “I feel like I’d go to a lot more games if it was closer to where I live,” said one fan.
  • “It’d be a lot better if it was more in our home area,” said another.

The Tampa Bay media landscape is littered with unscientific polling about where the next MLB stadium should be built.  And not surprisingly, fans almost always answer, “closer to me.”  It’s worth pointing out there are 1.1 million residents of Hillsborough County compared to just 900,000 in Pinellas.

But the WFLA story also included a few intelligent thoughts: one fan said the Rays just need some more time to build its young fan base, while another said Tampa Bay fans are just too lazy to drive to a baseball game (an idea explored here before).

And the problem with much of the media coverage of the Stadium Saga is that the questions have been limited to the mindless, “where should a stadium be built?”  Then, these largely-uneducated opinions (“a new stadium closer to me would be better!”) dominate the conversaion.

Instead, we should be asking fans questions that matter:

  • Would you go to more games if the stadium were in Tampa, but tickets were more expensive?
  • Should the Rays have to open their books before they receive any public subsidies?
  • How much of a half-billion dollar stadium should the public pay for, versus the team?
  • How much of a new stadium’s revenue should the public get, versus the team?
  • Would we be better just writing the team a $100 million check so it can “remain compeitive?”

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.