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The Tampa Bay Rays are desperate for a new stadium, and they've taken another step on the journey to build themselves a fancy new home. The Rays released their buzzword-laden wish list to the public just before meeting with a committee of local officials to discuss possible locations for their future park. The wish list, released 39 days before its due date and given the boring name "New Ballpark Site Evaluation Process Document," paints quite a picture. They want their new stadium to be "adapted to the evolving fan," that evolution being "from spectator culture to participant culture." Since technology has changed how fans interact with the game (not to mention how they interact with other fans), they want their new ballpark to reflect that. The document is filled with great ideas that also happen to be notoriously hard-to-execute concepts, like interconnectedness and authenticity. (Thankfully, they have a bit of time to figure all this out.)
The Rays probably had no problem coming up with all those exciting ideas, since their current stadium is the opposite of everything in that document. Their attendance has always been problematically low, and one of the reasons is the location of Tropicana Field. While their team is called the Tampa Bay Rays, the Trop is located in St. Petersburg, 20 miles from Tampa itself. That's not exactly a quick jaunt. Tropicana Field isn't a dream to play in, either. Their indoor stadium has problematic catwalks -- yes, catwalks, for some reason -- that disturb the path of airborne baseballs, and sometimes even eat them whole. Everything in that proposal is what they don't have now, from location requirements to ballpark designs that do not involve catwalks.
Of course, there's the small matter of who's going to pay for this glorious new center of Rays excellence. The team already has some idea, as they specifically mentioned that a "public-private partnership" is vital to their plans. If this sounds familiar, it's because both the Marlins and the Braves have used this model for their new stadiums. Considering how much criticism was heaped on the Marlins for their stadium deal, the Rays may want to steer clear of the Marlins' model of ballpark financing. That way, they won't bilk a city out of millions of dollars and they're even closer to getting the catwalk-free stadium they deserve.
- The Blue Jays will use spring training to consider extensions for both Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. In the meantime, they're trying to fill the Bautista-shaped hole in their souls by signing pitchers. I don't think it's going to work.
- The Cubs have avoided arbitration with star pitcher and A+ beard-haver Jake Arrieta, locking him down for one year and $10.7 million.
- I can't believe it's been five years since the Michael Pineda trade, and neither can Pinstripe Alley.
- Being a multi-sport athlete in college helped Jeff Samardzija find baseball, and he thinks it could be even more beneficial for younger athletes. Is that less controversial than his declaration that kids should have fun? You be the judge.
- The Giants reportedly have interest in signing Juan Uribe, meaning he could reenact his famous 2010 postseason home runs and continue to haunt the nightmares of Phillies and Rangers fans everywhere.
- Yesterday the Reds lost their arbitration hearing against reliever J.J. Hoover, then got the news that prospect Juan Duran would be suspended 80 games after testing positive for performance-enhancing substances. It hasn't been a good 24 hours for the Reds. Or a good offseason. Or ... well, you get the picture.
- In a move that has no actual downside at all, New York could be the next city to ban smokeless tobacco in public stadiums.
- Baseball is closer than ever, but it still feels so far away. Fortunately, the folks at Royals Review put together a list of great baseball movies to help you make it through.