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Manfred: Support Needed to Keep Rays in Tampa Bay Area

Tampa Bay Rays

Community support is needed if the Tampa Bay Rays are to build a new ballpark in the Tampa Bay region, according to Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred

The Rays are continuing their search for a new ballpark. There has been significant buzz of late about the possibility of constructing a new ballpark in Tampa’s Ybor City area, though Rays owner Stuart Sternberg recently indicated that the club has not ruled out St. Petersburg as an option.

Manfred weighed on the team’s ongoing effort on Thursday, and noted that the Rays and local officials have plenty of work in front of them if a new ballpark is to become a reality. The commissioner then noted that community support will be vital to keeping the Rays’ in the Tampa Bay area. More from The Tampa Bay Times:

“We need to figure out how the community can support an effort to keep baseball in Tampa (Bay),” Manfred said.

That’s “community” in the broadest sense: government leaders, businesses, fans, any other entity that wants to join in the effort. (Operators are standing by.)

“This is a daunting task,” Manfred told the Tampa Bay Times after the conclusion of the quarterly owners meetings. “There needs to be support from the community in order to be successful in completing it.”

Most daunting will be paying the projected tab of more than $800 million if the stadium has a retractable roof. Especially so after principal owner Stuart Sternberg said Wednesday that based on initial projections for increased revenues, the team’s ballpark number for its contribution to the new ballpark might only be $150 million.

A move to Tampa would also represent a shift into Hillsborough County for the Rays, who have played at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg since their inaugural season in 1998. In St. Petersburg, part of Pinellas County, there has been some discussion about the possibility of constructing a new ballpark near Tropicana Field, which would be torn down to make way for new development. A previously-approved agreement with the City of St. Petersburg allows the team to canvass the Tampa Bay region for a new ballpark until January 2019.

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