We will still see the stadium of the Rays

Commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday that Major League Baseball feels an urgency to find a new stadium for the Rays and said he continues to believe in Tampa Bay as a full-time Major League market.

Speaking to reporters after the Team Owners Meetings in Orlando, Manfred addressed the process of the Rays’ search for a stadium for the first time since the MLB executive council rejected the club’s proposal to split the games from local in future seasons between the Tampa Bay area and Montreal. The Rays’ deal to use Tropicana Field — their stadium since the franchise’s inaugural season in 1998 — will expire at the end of the 2027 season.

“My hope is that Tampa – the officials in the Tampa Bay region – and the Rays can work together to find a solution that can keep a full season of baseball in Tampa,” Manfred said. “We think that Tampa is a major league market and we want to find a solution that makes the team economically viable in that market.”

The Rays’ search for a new stadium has been underway for 15 years. They scrapped plans for a facility at the Al Lang Stadium site more than a decade ago, failed to reach agreement in 2018 on a proposal for a $900 million indoor stadium in Ybor City, and then the MLB executive committee voted on against the proposal to split home games between Montreal and the Tampa area.

MLB gave the Rays preliminary permission to explore the concept of splitting the season in June 2019 and then officially rejected the idea on Jan. 20. Rays principal owner Stu Sternberg called the decision “frankly demoralizing” for the club’s board, which had spent years working on the plan. However, Sternberg also said that “we are going to keep trying here in this market.”

“I’m excited. I think Mr. Sternberg’s tone on the day of the announcement was perfect,” Manfred said. “In an extraordinarily difficult situation, I think his tone was great. I think some of those commitments by some of the civilian leaders in the region are also encouraging.”

Once again, the Rays are determined to explore all of their options for a stadium on either side of Tampa Bay. Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, new St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch and other local officials have publicly expressed optimism that they can come up with proposals to keep the Rays in the area.

On Jan. 20, Sternberg said the Rays were in “very advanced” talks about an outdoor stadium in Ybor City, but those talks were focused on a park designed for the plan to split the season between Tampa and Montreal. Sternberg noted then, however, that Tampa also “had some plans” for a stadium that would work for a full-time season. The Tampa Bay Times reported this week that an analysis commissioned by the “Tampa Sports Authority” for 27,000 people could be built in the Ybor City area for a similar time — less than $1 billion, notably — as the proposed the Rays in 2018.

The time factor is of primary importance, however. The Rays must find a site, get financing and build a stadium before Opening Day in 2028. Considering all the planning and construction work, the Rays would likely need to come to an agreement sometime next year.

“We have a sense of urgency regarding the Tampa situation. They have been in a substantial period of uncertainty as to where they are going to play, which in turn dictates the economic outlook for the franchise,” Manfred continued. “That’s a bad thing. It’s bad for business. It undermines the ability to do business and for the club to operate in the most efficient way. So, we understand the urgency.”

We would love to thank the author of this article for this remarkable material

We will still see the stadium of the Rays