Rays owner threatens to move team if new stadium isn't built outside downtown St. Pete

06/21/10 Seán Kinane
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The Tampa Bay Rays are threatening to break their contract with the city of St. Petersburg and are looking to move out of Tropicana Field. Team owner Stuart Sternberg made that announcement this morning after he met with St. Pete Mayor Bill Foster.

The Rays signed a contract with the City of St. Petersburg that doesn’t expire until 2027. It says the Rays are not allowed to directly or indirectly negotiate for the use of any other facility besides the Trop. But Sternberg insists on moving in the direction of a new stadium.

Two years ago former St. Pete Mayor Rick Baker formed a Baseball Community, also called the ABC Coalition, to study alternative stadium locations. ABC put out its report in January.

Sternberg warns that in order for Major League Baseball to stay in the Tampa Bay region, the team must have a new stadium.

Sternberg says there needs to be a region-wide discussion in order to keep the Rays in Tampa Bay.

“Baseball will not work long-term in downtown St. Petersburg. And I know that the Rays want to remain in Tampa Bay.”

They want to stay here if a stadium is built. But Sternberg didn’t indicate the team was willing to fully fund the project. In 2007, when they proposed a waterfront stadium - ironically in downtown St. Pete, the one place they now claim is unacceptable - they suggested paying only about one-third of the total cost of $450 million.

previous WMNF coverage of Rays' stadium

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I hate to be mean, but

OK, St. Pete demolished the gas Plant district, which was the middle class Afro-American district of St. Pete, to get a team. This part also happens to be very far from Tampa. So, when St. Pete tries to show off, even though the team does well, the TV sees shots of nothing but empty stadium seats. Add to this that the city has let Baywalk and the Pier Go, and that even the Dali may have funding issues, and you have an example of what happens when some places try to act like bigshots, while ignoring the needs of actual citizens.