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Bob Buckhorn wasting his time playing the Charlotte, Las Vegas cards in Rays stadium debate

By on July 25, 2012

It usually takes a well-timed trip to a rival city. Just ask the Chicago White Sox. Or San Francisco Giants. Or Mario Lemeiux and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Pro teams in search of new stadiums typically “explore” a few rival cities to drum up leverage in their current market…something I predicted the Rays would do eventually. But while owner Stu Sternberg has indicated there may be “at least five” baseball-less markets better-equipped for the Rays than Tampa Bay, he hasn’t started naming any of the cities he might consider down the road.

He hasn’t had to.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who has been the region’s most vocal stadium supporter since taking office, has – on several occasions – named potential threat cities.

“We’re not going to let that team go to Charlotte or go to Las Vegas or go anywhere else,” he told the Tampa Tribune Friday. “That is our team, and we intend to keep it our team, and however that works out, wherever it works out has yet to be determined.”

Forget the fact that Charlotte is having trouble supporting its basketball team and nobody has suggested a baseball team in a region that lacks disposable income.

Forget the fact that baseball has made zero indication its interested in a move to Las Vegas, a metro even more driven by tourism than Tampa Bay. And that the city draws just 4,400 fans a game to its AAA stadium and cannot put an arena/stadium deal together to save its life.

And forget the fact that even Hall-of-Famer Peter Gammons admitted that Major League Baseball has run out of new cities to “blackmail” current cities.

Preparing for a next generation baseball stadium in Tampa Bay is responsible; but pulling competitor cities out of thin air may be counterproductive.

Cross-posted from Noah Pransky’s Stadium of the Shadow blog.

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