Sternberg, Manfred Reiterate Desire For Rays To Stay In Tampa Bay

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The Rays efforts to arrange a split-season home between Tampa Bay and Montreal were dashed last month, when Major League Baseball’s Executive Council officially shot down the idea. The club’s lease at Tropicana Field runs through 2027, but their long-term home remains uncertain.

With the split-city plan dashed, the Rays have pivoted back towards efforts to remain in the Tampa Bay area full-time. Speaking from the quarterly owners’ meetings this week, both Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg and MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed optimism about the team’s chances of finding a long-term home there (pair of links from Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times).

Speaking with Topkin yesterday, Sternberg reiterated his surprise with the Executive Council’s decision to nix the split-city plan but said “there’s no value for me rehashing it at this point” and suggested recent talks with Tampa-area officials had been promising. “People want us in the area, which is the most important thing. We want to be in the area, which is the most important thingAnd we have both (Tampa mayor Jane Castor) and her administration, and (St. Petersburg mayor Ken Welch) and his administration and the county people, who have been nothing but supportive and eager to engage with us.

Manfred addressed the situation this morning as the owners’ meetings wrapped up. He reiterated his belief that “Tampa is a major-league market” and called it his hope that the Rays and local officials “find a solution that will keep a full season of baseball in Tampa.” With a bit more than five years remaining on the Tropicana Field lease and the Rays’ desire for the construction of a new stadium, the commissioner told Topkin there’s “a sense of urgency” in talks.

Last week, the Times obtained a copy of a summary report commissioned by the Tampa Sports Authority which estimated the cost of constructing a roofed, full-season facility with a capacity of 27,000 fans in Ybor City would cost in the realm of $892MM. Sternberg and team president Matt Silverman told Topkin they’re awaiting further details, including a comprehensive cost breakdown, from that analysis.

It’s an incomplete picture of the work that they’ve been doing, and we’re eager to see that full pitch once it’s ready,” Silverman said. “Rather than react to a news report, we’re excited to sit down with the city and the county and the TSA.” Of course, apportioning responsibility for funding a potential new stadium will be key. While their split-season proposal was still on the table, the Rays indicated they were willing to foot half the bill on a stadium with an estimated $700MM overall price tag (thereby putting up around $350MM). The organization has yet to reveal how much they’d be willing to contribute to the construction of a full-season stadium in the Tampa Bay area.

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