We are back from our Grapefruit League travels, so it’s appropriate we jump back into things with what’s happening on a new Tampa Bay Rays ballpark. Long story short: Stuart Sternberg still believes in Tampa Bay and foresees a new ballpark, no matter what other folks in baseball say.
There’s been precious little progress on a new Rays ballpark, as the St. Petersburg City Council has shown no inclination toward discussing a new ballpark or allowing the Rays to seek a new ballpark elsewhere, despite agreements reached by the team and new Mayor Rick Kriseman on the framework for a deal. Despite the setbacks, the loss of some corporate support and some notable lack of enthusiasm for the market from MLB types, Sternberg expressed enthusiasm for the market while meeting with reporters at spring training, per the Tampa Bay Tribune:
“I’ve been very adamant and clear that I want to find the pinpoint perfect spot in the Tampa Bay region,” he said. “I still believe in the area, more so than the people in baseball, more so certainly than national media. I believe in it and I want to make it work. But it’s got to be in the right spot. Those who follow the game and follow the way attendance goes at sporting events, we more than any other market need to be pinpoint perfect in where our next facility is going to be, whenever that happens to be.”
He made his position on a new ballpark clear: the Tropicana Field site is ripe for redevelopment, so it’s a win-win for all involved to release the site for growth and allow the Rays to build a new ballpark. With the Rays not seeking any money from the redevelopment, it looks like an even bigger potential win for the city:
“I just don’t know exactly why the Council people feel it’s not in the citizens of St. Petersburg’s best interests to get the (Trop site) land back, develop that land, have a bunch of taxes coming in, create construction jobs, create long-term jobs, still have baseball within your midst, and guarantee that baseball is going to be here for multi-, multi-, multi-generations. I just don’t get it.”
The Rays really have done everything right: they’ve invested in the team despite some setbacks this past offseason, they’ve never threatened relocation, and they’ve worked within the governmental framework to procure a new facility.
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