Stu said the Rays would not negotiate exclusively with St. Pete, despite their current use agreement. Said he’d only listen to stadium proposals through a process that considers ALL stadium possibilities.
Quotes include: “We need to be in a location that makes it easy for our fans to reach.”
The Rays will not be playing in Tropicana Field when our current lease expires in 2027.”
Or, per Jonah Keri:
RT @jasoncollette Sternberg’s presser in one sentence: “Baseball will not work long-term in downtown St Pete”. Agree 120%!
Of course, as Pransky notes, none of this is really news: The Rays have been hinting that they want to get closer to their fans on the Tampa side of the bay for well over a year now. (Or as one commenter on the Channel 10 live chat put it: “guess I missed something. He didn’t tell us anything.”) What Sternberg’s statement appears to be is a shot across the bow of St. Pete, as well as an attempt to head off the city’s threatened lawsuit, in effect saying, “We’re only going to talk new stadiums if we can talk to everyone, so if there’s no talking going on, blame St. Pete.”
Now, St. Petersburg officials may well not care, given that they have a lease in place that binds the team from even talking about leaving Tropicana Field for the time being. But if nothing else, Sternberg’s statement refocuses the pressure on the city, while getting people talking about where a new stadium should go rather than whether one should be built (or, god forbid, who would pay for it) — and that’s what good p.r. is all about, right?