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Business Observer Monday, Jun. 20, 2022 1 week ago

MLB commissioner ratchets up urgency of Rays’ stadium situation

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Rob Manfred says "the time has come" for a resolution to the team’s cloudy future.

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred’s patience is wearing thin with the Tampa Bay Rays and the cities that want to be the team’s next home.

At an owners’ meeting in New York last week, Manfred said MLB wants the Rays to remain in the Tampa Bay region, but he also mentioned the Oakland Athletics, whose quest for a new stadium has prompted them to consider a move to Las Vegas, as being in the “same category” as the Rays. It’s a not-so-subtle hint that MLB could, sooner than later, condone a Rays relocation, even after baseball officials shot down the team’s so-called Sister City plan that would see it split home games between Montreal and St. Petersburg or Tampa.

“I've said this before, and I'm going to say it again: There needs to be a resolution in the Tampa Bay region for the Rays,” Manfred says. “Obviously, the end of that lease is a hard deadline, but you need to take into account that stadiums take a little bit of time to build.

"We are getting to the point where wherever it is in the region that has an interest in having 162 baseball games, they need to get to it, get with the club. I know the Rays are anxious to get something done and see if a deal can be made.”

The Rays’ lease at Tropicana Field in St. Pete expires at the end of the 2027 season. Over the years, the team has unsuccessfully targeted locations in Ybor City and the St. Pete waterfront for a new stadium, and with St. Pete zeroing in on a redevelopment partner for the 86-acre Trop site — an announcement of next steps is expected on or before June 30 — the team faces added pressure to clarify its intentions.

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