Winning is no longer enough for the Tampa Bay Rays, so team owner Stuart Sternberg says his team wants to consider all other location options for a new stadium to replace St. Petersburg's Tropicana Field.
"A Major League Baseball team's ability to compete, and quite frankly survive, rests on its ability to attract fans and businesses to its ballpark,” Sternberg said during a brief news conference Monday afternoon. “Our customers are our fans. We need to be in a location that is convenient for our fans to reach, and we need to be in a place that makes us attractive to the region's businesses.”
The Rays' current lease at Tropicana Field expires in 2027, but Sternberg is already certain of the ball club's future — the Rays' current relationship with downtown St. Petersburg will not last beyond that date. “We will consider any potential ballpark site in Tampa Bay,” he said.
At the same time, Sternberg hopes to achieve a level of regional collaboration to provide some support for the Rays, who find themselves competing in the same division as Major League Baseball's two highest-earning clubs, the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. The Rays enjoyed the best record in MLB for most of this season so far, yet crowds at the Trop have fallen far short of capacity while cable television ratings are setting local records.
“It is my strong conviction that if baseball is to survive and flourish in Tampa Bay for the long term, we must rise above municipal boundaries and work together with a common interest,” Sternberg said.