D-Rays owner: We want new digs soonish

Apparently the Paper of Record isn’t what it used to be: It took two days after Tampa Bay Devil Rays owner Stuart Sternberg told the New York Times that Tropicana Field “wasn’t built to last 30 to 40 years” and “has a shelf life of five years” before it blew up into a media frenzy back in Tampa Bay. One local columnist is predicting a new stadium by 2014; Sternberg, meanwhile, backed away slightly from his implied timetable, noting that he’s put about $17 million in improvements into the Trop since buying the team last winter:

“A lot of it was necessary to be there for five to 10 years. If I thought we would be leaving in four or five years we wouldn’t have done it. We’ve been told it’s going to really get expensive to maintain this place as years go by. The facility has to last at least five years, and it certainly will but not until, say, 2020 to pick a year.”

A more relevant year to pick might by 2027, which is the year the Rays’ lease runs through – and if you recall the contraction debates of a few years back, you’ll remember that the Rays have an especially iron-clad contract, not to mention a state that’s historically quick to litigate if it thinks it’s being threatened with loss of a team. (That’s how the D-Rays came into existence in the first place, after MLB blocked the San Francisco Giants from moving to Tampa Bay, and Florida threatened an antitrust lawsuit.) Without a viable move threat, Sternberg is going to need to come up with other arguments if he wants taxpayer money for any new digs – it’s probably only a matter of time before the phone starts ringing at the ERA offices.

13 comments on “D-Rays owner: We want new digs soonish

  1. The problem with the Dome is it is in the wrong place. When they build the next stadium it needs to go near the intersection of I-4 and I-75.

    There was a “contraction debate?” I thought that was just lip smacking while they waited for Jeffrey Loria to kill the Expos.

  2. The new ballpark should be built in Tampa Bay. Next to Raymond James Stadium.

  3. Why did they sign such a long lease for such a mediocre stadium?

    This team needs to be either 1) in Tampa or 2) competitive. MLB is the only major team sport left with incredibly unbalanced payrolls and no cap. On their own, this franchise doesn’t seem viable. With some crumbs from the Yankees and Red Sox, they can continue to get by and pad others records.

    I don’t see why anyone outside of St Pete would ever pay to go see the home team.

  4. “In Tampa Bay”? Wouldn’t the players get all wet?

    The problem the D-Rays have had in terms of on-field success isn’t payroll limitations (anyone remember Greg Vaughn and Vinny Castilla?) but terrible management. That seems to be solved now, and they actually have a pretty terrific nucleus of young players: Crawford, Baldelli, Upton, Young, Kazmir, etc. I’d certainly bet on them being contenders before the Blue Jays or Orioles are.

  5. I don’t bet on them being contenders before the blue jays or the orioles. When crawford has the chance to become a free agent he will leave tampa bay. The same thing for kazmir.Don’t be surprised if they trade crawford or baldelli in july. Let’s be honest they are the montreal expos of the american league.

  6. Kazmir and Crawford are both under the Rays’ control through 2010:


  7. Maybe the payroll was used poorly in the early years, but for the last 6 years it has been noncompetitive.

    What do the Orioles and Blue Jays matter? They’re in the same division as the Yanks and Sox. Eternal fodder.

  8. On those grounds, a new stadium wouldn’t make the Rays “viable,” either, since they still wouldn’t be able to spend with the Sox and Yanks.

    One of these years the Yanks and/or Sox will stumble, though, and the Rays are in as good a position as anyone to take advantage of that. Though telling fans that their home park will be in danger soon of “falling down” isn’t necessarily the best way to capitalize on that at the box office.

  9. The rays need pitching they are going tohave to trade one of there offensive players. They are not big players in the free agent market so they will have to makea trade. The franchise is doomed that’s why they have toplay a 3 game series at disney world .

  10. Sternberg hired a couple of people out of the Doctoroff stadium machine, so don’t be surprised if this one gains some steam soon.

  11. Peter – The Yankees and Mets have more popular support among politicians in MY than the Devil Rays have in FL. Florida state government is on the verge of passing a massive tax cut and it’s going to completely strap local communities who will have no $$$ for luxuries like new stadium construction. I’m not saying it’s impossible for the D-Rays to get public funding for a new stadium but it’s a lot more of an uphill battle than in NYC.

  12. “In Tampa Bay”? Wouldn’t the players get all wet?”

    Obviously the new ballpark will have a retractable roof.