As many fans of the Rays know, criticisms abound when it comes to the Bay area and baseball. Ranging from "not a baseball town" to "contract the team" it wears on Rays fans. MLB can change that.
Bring the All-Star game to Tampa or more specifically St. Petersburg.
It may sound like a crazy idea but the positives of having the All-Star game brought to Tampa/St.Pete would help change the views on many relevant and tiresome things about the Rays-including a new stadium.
MLB can and should bring the All-Star game to Tropicana Field because it would show a commitment to keep the sport in the area beyond spring training. Commissioner Bud Selig's comments concerning the team have always been "broken record" and repetitive. In an interview with ESPN, Selig mentions that the Rays need a stadium but has not taken much action.
Selig said he spoke with Rays owner Stu Sternberg and will "just monitor the situation" according to the article from April 2012.
Instead of conversations and "monitoring" Selig should put the Rays in the spotlight. It may not be the ideal location to some but it would put pressure on local officials to reach a decision on a new stadium.
Another way having the All-Star game would help the area and team is through the economic opportunities the game brings. According to Anaheim Orange County Visitor and Convention before the Los Angeles Angels hosted their game the estimated economic value of the event was going to bring $85 million in spending to the area.
St. Petersburg could use this economic boon for their area. Local politicians and constituents would be happy and it would put baseball in a positive spotlight on the national level.
MLB doesn't have to worry that the area can't adjust to hosting their event. Both Tampa and St. Petersburg have proven that they can hold their own when it comes to events. Just this past year St. Petersburg hosted a grand prix race and Tampa is always one of the final contestants considered for hosting the Super Bowl. The cities separate and together would be able to handle the new business and many fans of the game can see other things of the areas such as the beaches. The area, fans, citizens and politicians would benefit from it.
Another aspect, albeit minor, is the snowbird effect. Many people from the northern regions come to the area and live here seasonally. There are probably fewer places in the U.S. that would have fans representing most, if not all, 30 teams in baseball than the Bay area. It is common knowledge that Tampa Bay teams and fans deal with the snowbirds from all cities in football, hockey and baseball. Use it to the advantage of an event that has its basis on representation from around the league.
Selig and MLB need to realize that contraction is out of the question with the Rays' recent playoff appearances and Game 162. Although these things are great for the game and for the Rays, MLB fell into these beauties, they didn't make them happen. The team has exceeded expectations and has grown a fanbase, but it does need help from the league. With that in mind, show the cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg that MLB cares and wants to get involved.
Show you care about the game and the Rays and become involved. Bring the All-Star game to the Trop, Bud.