Forget attendance, this is what the Rays really want in a new stadium

I cringe every time I hear baseball fans, sportstalk hosts, and the Twitterverse argue over which long-term stadium location will draw the greatest number of fans through the Rays’ turnstiles.

In fact, it has been 10 years of cringing (as the wrinkles in my forehead will attest), as Tampa Bay fans — and now those in Montreal, too — spend most of their time arguing about attendance, with very little discussion about what really matters to Rays principal owner Stu Sternberg: revenues.

Yes, attendance is related to revenues, but it’s really just one piece of the puzzle.  And the future of the Rays franchise is much more likely to be determined by real estate than by butts in seats.

Ancillary development has become the new pro sports business model: from the Red Sox taking over streets and businesses outside Fenway Park nearly 20 years ago to Jeff Vinik using the Lightning as a loss leader to build a real estate empire in downtown Tampa.

Look at how the Braves have built two new ballparks (regular season and spring training) in unlikely places, where they’ve been able to take advantage of major development deals to create brand new neighborhoods around their

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