Following a meeting with St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster, Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg said Monday that the team wants to explore all potential new ballpark options within the Tampa Bay area, including those outside St. Petersburg and Tampa.
“The future of Major League Baseball in Tampa Bay depends on finding the optimal site for a new ballpark,” Sternberg said. “It is my 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 underscored that he believes baseball can succeed in the Tampa Bay area and that he is committed to doing all he can to keep the team in the region.
Sternberg spoke at a midday news conference at Tropicana Field and did not answer questions afterward.
“When I assumed control of the Rays almost five years ago, it was commonly assumed that winning would change everything at Tropicana Field,” Sternberg said. “Everyone believed that with a winning team on the field, fans would fill the stands. That has not been the case.”
Tropicana Field has been a bone of contention for the Rays’ owners for several years. They do not believe the park can generate enough revenue to support a competitive team on a yearly basis. Sternberg has said in the past that the team could not play at Tropicana Field through the life of the Rays’ contract at the facility, which runs through 2027.
In 2008, the Rays’ proposal for a waterfront stadium did not come to fruition, prompting Sternberg and company to maintain a low profile in regard to plans about the team’s future at Tropicana Field, or elsewhere.
The Rays’ public stance has been a positive, focus-on-the-field approach, and the team had recently made no comment about a ballpark until Monday