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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Rays Have New Hope Of Finally Completing Stadium Deal

  • Sternberg looks to get $1.2 billion deal done by year's end
  • If completed, agreement would finally solidify team's long-term future
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Rays have renewed hope for a stadium deal after nearly two decades of fruitless efforts to develop a successor facility to Tropicana Field. 

Rays principal owner Stu Sternberg — who has faced years of criticism over a seeming inability or unwillingness to complete a local stadium deal — said he is “highly optimistic” of finally reaching an agreement on a $1.2 billion ballpark in St. Petersburg by the end of the year. 

Sternberg also said he’s willing to pay more than half of that stadium cost, a notion that has led the owner to seek out investors in return for minority equity in the team. That pursuit, however, has turned into months worth of unsolicited inquiries about buying a majority stake in the Rays — something that doesn’t currently interest Sternberg.

“When you’re talking about people raising potentially hundreds of millions of dollars, they’re going, ‘Well, maybe we can buy the whole damn thing.’ So they take a run at you,” Sternberg said to the Tampa Bay Times.

Beneath Sternberg’s hopeful outlook, though, was a revived threat that the team could ultimately leave the Tampa area if the stadium deal isn’t completed. 

“If I can’t get something done here, the best buyer will be somebody from somewhere else, and the team will be sold,” he said. 

Despite again fielding MLB’s fourth-smallest payroll and ranking 27th in average attendance, the Rays have the American League’s second-best record, are poised for a fifth straight postseason appearance, and haven’t had a losing season since 2017. 

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