I started making posts in the tampa stadium funding post, but it seems that even though the two are connected to the Rays long-term success, talking about both in the same post seemed to be muddying the waters.
So here's the first thing I posted:
according to this website, the Tampa/St. Pete/Sarasota market is the 13th largest market (1.8 mil). Dallas/Ft. Worth is the 5th largest market (2.5mil), and LA is the second largest (5.6). However, when you add in the Orlando market (19th, at 1.6), the Rays market nearly doubles to 3.4. That puts the Rays TV market size into the top 5.
According to this article, the LA Angels are close to a deal that will eclipse the Rangers deal. Their new deal also would include a ownership stake in Fox Sports West. These new deals can only help the Rays when they start their new negotiations.
As Jonah Keri points out, TV deals are the next boon of baseball. The Rays may be small market geographically, but regionally, as far as TV markets are concerned, the Rays swim with the big fishes. And that will make a major impact on the future of the franchise.
The Rays should easily get 50-80 million a year in a new deal. This will allow the Rays to be able to afford a new stadium (with help from either St. Pete or Tampa), and raise the payroll into the 70-100 range...and that's before $1 from attendance comes in. $tu has to paint the picture bleak in order to negotiate a good stadium deal. That's business. But when you step back and take a look at the overall picture, the potential is there to make this a very lucrative and competitive baseball franchise for years and years to come.