Rays Owner Acknowledges Team May Move to Other Side of Tampa Bay

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↵The Tampa Bay Rays don't play in Tampa; rather, they play in St. Petersburg, which is the second-largest city (to Tampa) in the Tampa Bay metropolitan area. All of this Florida geography is very confusing, I'm sure, but what Rays owner Stuart Sternberg wants—money—isn't. And so the long, slow march across Tampa Bay might have just begun: ↵

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↵⇥The Tampa Bays Rays will not find long-term success in downtown St. Petersburg, and discussions for a new ballpark should begin immediately, team owner Stuart Sternberg said Monday.⇥ ↵⇥

↵⇥"We will consider any potential ballpark site in Tampa Bay but only as part of a process that considers every potential ballpark site in Tampa Bay,'' he said at a Tropicana Field press conference.⇥ ↵⇥

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↵⇥Sternberg declined to answer any questions, but he did break nearly two years of silence on the stadium issue, marking a new phase in the debate over major league baseball's future in the Tampa Bay area, where any new stadium should be located and who should pay for it.⇥ ↵⇥

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↵This new phase is likely to be very messy. Sternberg and the rest of Rays management are, first and foremost, smart businessmen, and they know that delaying public whining about long-term viability until the Rays were good enough to be missed was a good move.  ↵

↵Now, though, by going public for the first time, they'll have to navigate a minefield. Opposition to the idea of moving to a downtown Tampa stadium—and the implication that public funds will be involved—is already hostile and vocal, and that's just from the public. From the comments on that article, all sic'd: ↵

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↵⇥Retired99 wrote:⇥ ↵⇥

↵⇥NO taxpayer funding for a new stadium. Nothing. Nada. Zip.⇥ ↵⇥

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↵⇥Dr_Dug wrote:⇥ ↵⇥

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↵⇥Here we go again....Sternberg has a new plan for the City to spend $350 million on his $290 million team...Since 2004, the Rays have only grown in value $60 million, and since the Trop has gone from $200 million in value to being *worthless in value(*see Sternberg excuse for new stadium)..I'm sure Sternberg has a great idea... like trading part of the team as an exchange for building a Stadium...⇥I DO WISH HE WOULD QUIT COMPLAINING ABOUT ATTENDANCE..Sternberg himself LIVES IN NY and admits he only comes to watch "Special Games"....like the Yankees...He himself is the problem!⇥ ↵⇥

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↵⇥Jethro Bodine wrote:⇥ ↵⇥

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↵⇥Hurry! Hurry! Hurry! Step right up! Come to the Whitney Bank Club at 12:15 and see the Money-Grubbing Weasels perform their tricks of illusion for you. See the politicians jump through hoops. Don't miss it! But remember folks, it's just an act. Don't believe anything you see or hear. Hurry! Hurry! Hurry! (Remember, it was P.T. Barnum who said "there is a sucker born every minute".)⇥ ↵⇥

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↵There's more to the roiling stew, too. The potential of politicians grandstanding is high, because there are fairly contentious Senate and gubernatorial races going on. And media companies getting hopelessly conflicted (remember, the St. Petersburg Times is a bit more involved with sports than most papers) is a possibility. This is a combustible mix that leads me to wonder when, not if, it will explode. ↵

↵So, uh, yeah, you might hear something about this going forward, what with publicly-financed stadiums still getting ridiculed and the Rays likely staying in contention for AL East titles and World Series berths for years to come. There's a storm coming in Tampa Bay, and I don't mean that team that Jon Gruden's brother quarterbacked. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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