On Sunday, Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg responded bluntly to rumors of a potential sale of the team.
“I expect we will build a ballpark in Tampa Bay that will keep the Rays here for generations to come,” Sternberg said in a statement, via the Tampa Bay Times. “I also plan on remaining the Rays owner.”
The Rays are earning attention from several parties interested in purchasing the team. Earlier Sunday, Ken Rosenthal and Chandler Rome of The Athletic reported that one prospective buyer, a local businessman, would keep the Rays in the area. Meanwhile, a handful of outside groups who would move the Rays are also interested.
A new stadium has always been the biggest hurdle to the Rays staying put. They’ve needed a replacement for Tropicana Field since MLB granted Tampa Bay an expansion team. However, a report in March indicated a rise in optimism surrounding a new stadium for the Rays, and Sternberg’s latest comments only validate the feeling.
Tampa Bay’s home since 1998 has never been ideal for baseball, and in 2023 it’s far behind the times. The Rays have a history of failing to draw fans, but many believe a new stadium will alleviate those issues.
Putting a winning product on the field certainly helps fill the stands, and the Rays are certainly that right now. At 34-14, the Rays own the best record in MLB, and despite ranking 24th in attendance, their success is leading to a boost in fan support. Tampa Bay is averaging 17,955 fans per game at Tropicana Field this season, up from 13,927 in 2022, per ESPN.
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