Tampa Bay sports radio host plans protest against proposed Rays split-season concept

"The numbers don't work. It's not worth $350 million of public money to have half the baseball games in a 'boutique stadium,' we're not going to do it."

Despite support from a small handful of local rich guys and the Tampa Bay Times editorial board, not everyone is onboard with spending millions in tax dollars on a new Rays stadium, especially one that's designed to sit empty for half a season.

In response to what he says is a "total scheme," local podcaster and former WDAE radio host J. P. Peterson is planning a "Save Our Rays Full Season" rally in Ybor this February to protest principal owner Stu Sternberg's "sister city" split-season plan calling for new stadiums in both Montreal and Tampa's Ybor City.

"'Save', because he's threatening to move the team," said Peterson in a phone call with Creative Loafing Tampa Bay. "'Our,' because it's not just Stu Sternberg's team, it belongs to Tampa Bay, and obviously, 'Full Season,' because, you know, we're vehemently against the half season idea."

Arguing that the MLB Players Association won't approve a season where players are forced to live in Montreal and Tampa, and that the temperature from local fans is overwhelmingly negative, Peterson says two soon-to-be released Tampa Sports Authority (TSA) feasibility studies will show that the "sister city plan" just doesn't make sense on paper.

"Look, the TSA is going to say that this half season thing is unworkable," Peterson says. "The numbers don't work. It's not worth $350 million of public money to have half the baseball games in a 'boutique stadium,' we're not going to do it. But doesn't matter to Stu, he wants two municipalities to pay for half the stadiums, right? And then he get three television contracts. One English Canadian contract, one French Canadian contract and then the Tampa Bay one. That's where the money is for him."

As the blog Field of Schemes points out, one of the TSA studies is being "conducted by Irwin Raij, who has previously worked for MLB on both the relocation of the Montreal Expos and the pursuit of an Oakland A’s stadium deal."

"So you know he’s impartial," the website added. "No, not 'impartial,' what’s that other word…"

It's worth point out that no exact dollar amount has been attached to the new stadium concept. However, a recent poll sent out by Tampa Mayor Jane Castor's reelection campaign asked residents it they would be fine with publicly subsidizing $350 million in stadium money, while Sternberg pays another $350 million.

But Peterson and his 40-50K listeners aren't the only ones against the concept. Despite the weirdly inaccurate framing of this Tampa Bay Times headline, Mayor Jane Castor actually says in the article she's opposed to the split season idea. On top of this, last October a Canadian nonprofit unveiled a new billboard along I-275, right next to Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg reading: “Dear Rays, Montréal won’t pay for your new stadium. Sincerely, Taxpayers.”

As of now, no specific date has been planned for the "Save Our Rays Full Season" march, but Peterson is asking that any fans groups interested in participating to email him at [email protected]. "So far, Lightning fan groups, Buccaneer fan groups are all reaching out and saying, 'We're all in, what do you want us to do?,'" added Peterson. 

The JP Peterson Show airs weekdays 10 a.m. -noon EST. 

About The Author

Colin Wolf

Colin Wolf has been working with weekly newspapers since 2007 and has been the Digital Editor for Creative Loafing Tampa since 2019. He is also the Director of Digital Content Strategy for CL's parent company, Euclid Media Group.
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