With the announcement recently that the financing of the new Rays stadium in Ybor City had fallen thru, those of us Rays fans nervously waited for the bad news.
That news being that since financing could not be secured, the Rays would be looking outside the Tampa Bay area for its new home. That was what I think we all expected to hear.
Stuart Sternberg spoke at the winter meetings in Las Vegas and although expressing disappointment with the financing not being there for the stadium, he committed to the Tampa Bay area at least through 2027.
The Rays just this week said they will no longer be looking for a stadium site in Hillsborough County and will now negotiate exclusively with Pinellas County. They will not seek another extension and permission to look outside Pinellas County.
I think there are two locations that the Rays may look at. The Rays can rebuild on the Tropicana field site, or they could possibly relocate to the site of AL Lang Stadium.
The Rays had looked at the Al Lang site back in 2009 and decided to abandon that plan in 2011. With the Rays purchase of the Tampa Bay Rowdies and their controlling Al Lang Stadium, could it be possible that the Rays would open that door again and look at that site for a new Rays stadium?
If the Rays are only going to look at potential sites in Pinellas County, there is not a lot of potential sites to chose from. The current Trop site and the Al lang Stadium site are the two sites that make the most sense.
The Rays lease expires at Tropicana Field in 2027. The Rays will not be playing in that current stadium past 2027 under any circumstances.
As Sternberg said, the Rays swinging and missing on the potential site in Hillsborough County is strike 2. We don’t want to see strike 3.
Montreal , Nashville, Portland and Las Vegas are all wanting an MLB franchise either in the form of an expansion team or an existing franchise.
The Tampa St. Pete Market in the 19th largest TV market in the country. The Rays TV ratings have always been very strong and in 2018 the Rays had more TV viewers than the top 9 prime time shows combined.
The Montreal TV market does not get measured here in the US. Portland is No. 22, Nashville, 27, and Las Vegas 39.
With the strong TV ratings here in the Tampa market, that would be a lot of revenue to give up by reloacating to a smaller market.
From a financial standpoint, the Rays are in the best shape they have been in quite some time. The Rays just signed a new TV deal that will pay them around $80 million a year up from the $20-$25 million they had been getting.
The revenue sharing money continues to increase. That can only help the Rays with their payroll and expenses going forward as evidenced by the signing of P Charlie Morton to the highest paid contract in Rays History, $15 million per year for two years.
The earliest the Rays could play in a new ballpark would be the 2024 season. That would be if a site is decided on relatively soon.
The longer this drags on, the chances increase that the Rays will leave Tampa Bay behind and there will be no baseball in 2028.