Tony Lee asks which team most needs a new stadium, and doesn't have much trouble coming up with the answer. Lee's big finish:
- All but eight of the 30 current stadiums in use in the majors were opened in the last 20 years, but those that are older are not going away anytime soon. That list includes the historic gems of Wrigley Field and Fenway Park, the beloved Dodger Stadium, refurbished and perfectly satisfactory homes in Kansas City and Anaheim, the soon-to-be-replaced Sun Life Stadium in Miami and Toronto’s behemoth of a ballpark. Only the Oakland Athletics, who have called Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum home since 1968, have any real momentum toward moving to a new park, which could occur as early as 2015 in nearby San Jose. If and when that move takes place, the Rays would once again stand alone. They would be the only team in baseball not playing in either a retro ballpark such as Camden Yards or Yankee Stadium, a "retro-modern" park such as Angels Stadium or Target Field, one of the retractable-roof stadiums such as Rogers Centre or Chase Field, or an ancient classic such as Fenway or Wrigley.Tampa Bay has cowbells, but little else. In the AL East, that lack of panache is even more glaring.
It's clear that you don't need a good ballpark to compete. The Rays have perhaps the worst ballpark, and over the last three seasons they've won 10 fewer games than the Yankees, five fewer than the Phillies, two fewer than the Red Sox, and more than the other 26 teams in the major leagues.
Can they keep doing that in their ballpark? Maybe not. But doing it for three years in a lousy ballpark is a lot better than doing it for zero years in a good ballpark. Which is what the great majority of teams have actually done.
But yes, to continue getting a performance on the field that matches their intelligence in the front office, the Rays will probably need some help. Maybe that's a new ballpark, or a change in the revenue-sharing system that rewards success, or expanded playoffs. Something, though.
All that said, here's a question that's a lot tougher ... Leaving aside the A's and the Rays, which other team will be the first to get a new ballpark? One would assume we're looking at least a decade into the future and perhaps two, which probably makes the question not just tough to answer, but practically impossible.