“Baseball will not work long-term in downtown St Petersburg” — Stuart Sternberg
That’s the one sentence to pull from today’s press conference., in my opinion. The rest of the release:
“The future of Major League Baseball in Tampa Bay depends on finding the optimal site for a new ballpark,” said Sternberg. “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.”
Added Sternberg, “We will consider any potential ballpark site in Tampa Bay, but only as part of a process that considers every ballpark site in Tampa Bay.”
Sternberg said he believes baseball can succeed in Tampa Bay and that he is committed to doing all he can to keep the team in the region.
“When I assumed control of the Rays almost five years ago, it was commonly assumed that winning would change everything at Tropicana Field. Everyone believed that with a winning team on the field, fans would fill the stands. That has not been the case.”
Sternberg continued, “Our ability to compete and, quite frankly, to survive rests on our ability to attract people and businesses to our ballpark. Our customers are our fans. And like any other business, we need to be in a location that is convenient for our fans to reach us.”
In discussing the Rays future, Sternberg confirmed that he wants the team to remain in Tampa Bay but for that to happen a regional discussion needs to begin soon.
“Baseball in the Tampa Bay area does not belong to Stu Sternberg, just as it doesn’t belong to St. Petersburg or Tampa, Pinellas or Hillsborough. It is a regional asset. It belongs to our fans throughout the region. For this asset to be preserved, a comprehensive process to explore a new ballpark must begin. That process needs to consider all possible locations throughout Tampa Bay – meaning Tampa and Hillsborough as well.”
Sternberg said being able to explore all possible stadium options to keep the team in Tampa Bay was “the right thing for our fans and for all the residents of Tampa Bay.”
Until that discussion began in earnest, he continued, the team cannot and will not make a decision on a future ballpark in Tampa Bay and the air of uncertainty over the future of Major League Baseball in the area will continue to linger.
Why is a new location necessary? Take a gander at the chart below.