Stuart Sternberg read his anticipated statement and said nothing most of us didn’t already know. Some of the highlights…

  • “Baseball Will Not Work Longterm In Downtown St. Pete.”
  • “The Rays will not be playing in Tropicana Field when our lease expires in 2027.”
  • “When I assumed control of the Rays…Everyone believed that with a winning team on the field, fans would fill the stands. That has not been the case.”
  • “It is my conviction that if baseball is to survive and flourish in Tampa Bay for the long-term, we must rise above municipal boundaries and work together with a common interest…We will consider any potential ballpark site in Tampa Bay, but only as part of a process that considers every ballpark site in Tampa Bay.”
  • “Our ability to compete and, quite frankly, to survive rests on our ability to attract people and businesses to our ballpark. Our customers are our fans. And like any other business, we need to be in a location that is convenient for our fans to reach us.”
  • “Baseball in the Tampa Bay area does not belong to Stu Sternberg, just as it doesn’t belong to St. Petersburg or Tampa, Pinellas or Hillsborough. It is a regional asset. It belongs to our fans throughout the region. For this asset to be preserved, a comprehensive process to explore a new ballpark must begin. That process needs to consider all possible locations throughout Tampa Bay – meaning Tampa and Hillsborough as well.”

While Sternberg did not come out and say “we’re moving to Tampa,” that is certainly the tone of his comments.

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47 Comments

  1. Martin B says:

    I hope the City of St. Pete really sticks them on the lease.

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    • Mark says:

      That will show em Martin.

      If Bill Foster is stubborn then we are all f*cked. The Rays will leave and probably will end up owing St. Pete little to nothing.

      If Foster wasnts his legacy to be anything else but a complete failure he will work out a deal to get a new stadium in the Carillon area of St. Petersburg. If he doesn't he will be the biggest goat this area has ever seen.

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  2. Bobby Fenton says:

    He said absolutely nothing today that wasn't already understood, but at least now it has officially come from him.

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  3. Aaron says:

    He ditto'd my blog from February basically:

    http://christianrocker90.blogspot.com/2010/02/either-unite-or-lose-team.html

    And I agree with him!

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  4. Josh says:

    Suck on that St.Pete. About time.....

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  5. Blake says:

    giggidy

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  6. Jordi says:

    I'm predicting a lawsuit to get out of the lease. The Rays will be so far in the red by 2027 it will be ridiculous. They might as well move operations to Durham in 2020 because that's where the marketable talent will be. I know I asked this on twitter, but is there any chance the City of St Pete let's the Rays out but with the stipulation that they cannot move to Tampa or Orlando?

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    • Michael says:

      Talk about doing the opposite of "we must rise above municipal boundaries and work together with a common interest". Why on earth why would they do that? Talk about being pointlessly spiteful.

      St. Pete has nothing to complain about. They were told by MLB officials in the mid-80s not to build a stadium where they did, but they did it anyway. When the need for a new park is completely obvious to everyone else they stonewall and wave that lease around. They can't come close to filling the place on weeknights, and when they were presented with a reasonable plan (admittedly not without flaws) for a new park on the waterfront two years ago and gave the Rays the fat middle finger. There was no give and take or negotiation -- just "We don't want it."

      The cost of the bonds that paid for the stadium will be completely paid off in just a few years, the Rays will get their park in Tampa by 2017, and I'm sure St Pete and/or Pinellas will be compensated in some way for the last 10 years of the lease.

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    • Cork Gaines says:

      That was pretty much the offer the Rays gave in the initial proposal. The idea is that selling the Trop site to developers would more than make up for loss of money in the Rays contract. So I would assume St. Pete would go along with that.

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  7. Preston says:

    Listen, all you Tampa natives. Saint Pete does not support the Rays like they should. I understand this. I read all the backlash on the Saint Pete Times and all the general flippancy (is that an actual word?) of the City as a whole towards keeping the team in city limits. I'm sad about this, but by no means do I not understand it. IF Saint Petersburg as a whole is upset about this, they have no one to blame but themselves. They all wanted something for nothing. This is the result of greed.

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  8. Ro says:

    Someone on Facebook actually said they'd quit supporting the Rays if they move to Tampa. Others talked about fairweather fans and the economy being a part of the attendence. Others said the economy was not an excuse and basically that people should trade eating to attend the games.

    I move that the Rays come to Arizona so I can go to games. ;)

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  9. Kelley says:

    So it sounds like St. Pete would rather the Rays move to somewhere like AZ rather than Tampa to at least keep them in the Bay area. How greedy and self-destructive can they possibly be? St. Pete makes me sick.
    At least I can be mad at the mayor now instead of at how the Rays have been playing lately.

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    • Martin B says:

      Why does it make you sick? The Rays have a contract with the city to occupy Tropicana field. The city is performing it's part of the bargain. The Rays, just like any business that does business with the city, should be held to their contracts or have to pay the appropriate damages.

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      • Cork Gaines says:

        I don't know if the city has acted unfairly. But, the contract with the Trop is a "use agreement," not a lease. From what I understand, that makes the Rays and the Trop (well, the city actually) partners in the business of baseball. If the Rays can prove that the Trop is keeping fans from attending games and thus is hurting business, the Rays *might* be able to break their lease.

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  10. Gus says:

    A Tampa stadium doesn't really solve the area's core problem. You move it to Tampa, you alienate the Pinellas fans. You keep it in St. Pete, you alienate the Hillsborough fans. I'm not sure how you fix it, but I'm pretty sure asking the taxpayers for a handout (all while stating you are breaking your contract with St. Pete) and putting those same taxpayers outside in the elements is a surefire way to make attendance worse, not better.

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  11. Myrna says:

    I'll go wherever the Rays go, as long as it's in the Tampa Bay area. I love this team and I'm committed to continue to support them. The people that live here should support them as well. I'm talking about Boston and Yankee fans who have lived here for years and still do not support their home team. I was raised in New York and was a die-hard Yankee fan for years, but no longer. Unfortunately, not everyone thinks like I do.

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  12. Joe says:

    Gus:

    The Lightning moved across the bay there was no such civil war between the counties.

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    • Gus says:

      The Lightning were never considered long-term tenants. In fact, they were beloved by Pinellas people for using the Dome while they waited for expansion. There was no long-term relationship, no breaking of contracts, no blaming a single locality for franchise-wide failures on the City. In fact, the Lighting exposed all kinds of people to hockey with cheap tickets and hug crowds.

      But there were lots of people (myself included) who gave up their Lightning season tickets when they moved across the bay. No spite, just business on my part -- further from my friends, family and clients. I still went to games, but only when they were good and convienent to me. No Mondays in January for me. By contrast, I think there will be some real hurt feelings this time around for people who have poured tens of thousands of $ into the team, fallen in love with them, only to see them move closer to a bunch of people who have never supported the team and have complained about its location for 25 years.

      My point being, is that the Rays better replace each season ticket holder they lose with 1.25 season tickets in Tampa to get them to just the same place they are now (factoring in increased costs associated with the new facility). It may happen if they can stay good for 10 years in a row and build a widespread fanbase, but I kind of doubt it. Especially if you put people outside with no a/c, it will be one more powerful excuse to watch the game on TV.

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  13. Rayofhope says:

    Bottom line is Tampa has a larger population and a higher average family income. Those two factors will contribute to more people going to the games. You throw in the fact there are a lot more businesses there and there is your corporate sponsorship they are truly lacking today. Simple as that. Channelside is my choice and I am clammoring for a new stadium there!!

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  14. Joe says:

    •“When I assumed control of the Rays…Everyone believed that with a winning team on the field, fans would fill the stands. That has not been the case.”

    An interesting comment...I think that this is a process that takes time. I sensed disappointment in Sternberg, and frankly, he doesn't live here, why should he be? There is a phrase I have learned in life that you get out of something what you put in. He has put in a lot in, yes, but he isn't doing everything he can, sorry. I can discuss this at another time another place, but Stu has cleverly manipulated this situation to his advantaged.

    Having said that, Mayor Foster has to watch himself here. With his tact and direction, he is putting the future of the team in danger with his rhetoric. As I have feared, the Mayor and the City Council are going to be impediments to this process. Thus, what the Rays could stand to win in damages in a potential lawsuit could be permanently crippling to major league baseball being a permanent part of the bay area culture.

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    • Michael says:

      Sternberg hasn't done everything he can? What the heck else do you want him to do? Hire strippers for entertainment between innings?

      He has put a top notch front office in place that beat the Red Sox and Yankees to make the World Series two years ago when no one thought it was even remotely possible, and his team under Silverman's leadership have made the Trop experience about as good as it's going to get. My girlfriend never stepped foot inside the Trop before Fan Fest 2008 and yet it's difficult to explain how big of a difference it is between seeing a game there now versus 2002 or thereabouts. She wouldn't even recognize the place.

      If you think he needs to spend even more money on player payroll at a personal loss instead of remaining within in a reasonable budget that they can actually afford, you're crazy. There's not an owner in sports that would do that. No one who's been a fan of this team for more than the past two years should have a single negative thing to say about the franchise's direction, especially if you compare it to the previous owner.

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      • Joe says:

        To make a long story, short, Michael, the answer is YES, YES, YES!!! He has deliberately turned away season ticket holders just to create this argument. In a matter of speaking, there are matters of collective bargaining that hurt the Rays between the owners and players association. That is another story for another time.

        There are subtleties and nuances I have caught, i.e., how do the Rays barf and whiff on local television contract for EIGHT YEARS!! Also, who are Peter Gammons "sources" in regards to radio ratings?? What about the team walking away from interested season ticket holders.

        I could go on, but it isn't worth it. You can call it cirumstantial or coincidence, fine by me. But when you compete against Boston and New York, bring your money, and bring your brains, but bring more money too. On the surface, Michael, I would agree with your sentiment against me, but there is more to it. I partially blame the failure of Sternberg to get a better local television contract for one, and the fact he is a great manipulator amongst another.

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        • Mark says:

          What are you talking about?
          You literally make no sense at all.

          Radio ratings??? You know Gammons apologized for that because he was completely wrong. The Yankees radio game pulled a huge 0.0 rating in this market.

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  15. Joe says:

    Another thing about the comment, no matter how small, or insignifcant, the Rays have enjoyed INCREASES in attendance every year since 2007. That is a fact. Gerrymander it all you want (Kazmir trade, etc.)....

    Just like a trade the TIMING of the presser, as Cork alluded to last night about WINNING would have less of an impact if this took place 10 days from now.

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  16. Alex says:

    Its pretty easy to see an increase when your average attendance was 15k people. The increase in attendance is fueled by the winning but you have to remember they also have concerts on Saturdays now, Friday is a party night and Sunday is a big family day. The weekday attendance still sucks

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    • This is a good point Alex, it is certainly easier to boost attendance (%-wise at least) when you're starting from a lower point. But what other MLB, or for that matter Rays affiliate, doesn't do the same sort of promotions on days most likely to increase attendance?

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  17. Joe says:

    Well, the Rays AND the fans should be commended that they do like baseball and the product. Have the Pirates in their new ballpark had an increase in attendance?

    I think its fair to say that in any service/hospitality/entertainment venture that weekends are better than weekdays. I wanted to make the point about single game tickets and seating, the Rays have socked it to single game walkups with their surcharges. It is a sore spot with many people, which leads to scalping and/or disinterest.

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  18. bucyea says:

    Are you people that stupid? The Rays have given everything they can to this area and are gettin ZERO in retrun. I live within walking distance to the Trop, so obviously I'd hate to see them leave the area, but for the long-term health of our Rays, they have no choice. i loved the idea of a waterfront park downtown here, but of course, politicians and "park freaks" who need hundreds of miles of park space, ruined that. What a great ballpark than could have been!

    If we can't find and back the Rays in a site in Tampa, I'm afraid we'll lose them from the entire area, possibly the entire state. Wake up FOOLS!

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  19. Justin says:

    What is scary about this announcement--in terms of competence--and what makes me doubt Sternberg, is that two years ago the Rays were ready to go all in with a new stadium in downtown St. Pete (the one with the sail top, and open concept on old Al Lang Field).

    But now, apparently, St. Pete is a non starter. Something is wrong here; either they were wrong then, or they are wrong now. While they have done some new studies since that time, I really question the people in charge. If these studies contradicted what we knew before (I don't think that they do), then we must question the Rays for being interested in the new stadium design they floated in 2007-8. It is scary to think that the organization nearly went all in on a stadium that would have not worked--because that is what these studies claim, that even a new stadium on the old Al Lang field would have failed.

    FYI, I live in Tampa, so having the stadium over here would be better for me--I'm questioning Sternberg because the logic is not matching up, and it makes makes me more concerned, not less.

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  20. jim says:

    the rays knew that the attendance would be down significantly this year and it's their own doing.

    1. they raised some season ticket packages as much as 35%. they basically told the upper level fans on the budget to get screwed.
    2. they did away with the free parking on the most popular days.
    3. they literally had a "captive" audience. a lot of the "playoff" renewals were the ones that bought weekend packages last year with their deposits. then what did the rays do? did the go out and do everything possible to get these "captives" to renew there packages? no they reclassified the upper level and jacked up the prices. huge blunder here, i would imagine that there was a very very low renewal amongst these season tix holders.
    4. i'm sick and tired of hearing about the "free" concerts. i was a season ticket holder for 07,08, and 09, and i've never been to a post game concert. my saturday tickets had and increase in price every year due to these "free" shows. i'm a baseball fan, not an adam lambert fan.

    cork, i emailed you and told you earlier in the year that the new ticket pricing policy would fail miserably and they would somehow put this back on the trop, and that's exactly what just happened. once again how can you raised prices on season tickets as much as 35%, raise the price of every popular game, do away with free parking on the popular nights, and honestly expect to draw MORE people?

    they were going to charge me more for 2 season tickets this year as it cost me 3 last year. instead of getting thousands from me in concessions and tickets, they gotten less than $200 from me so far this season. if their honestly wondering why no one is showing up, they need to walk down to the marketing dept and ask that question.

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  21. Mark says:

    The one question I have is:

    Has an area that built a new stadium for a team ever regretted that decision? Are people in Minnesota complaining about the new stadium? Are people in Baltimore or Pittsburgh or Houston, or San Francisco complaining?

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  22. jim says:

    houston 66.9% filled
    baltimore 49.2% filled
    pittsburgh 49.5% filled

    it you build it, will they come? after the "new" first years, our attendance will be back to 14K during the week.

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    • Tim says:

      Jim,

      Way to cherry pick teams that you think prove something.

      The fact is they don't even do that.
      Would we be drawing 14k with their records? We would be getting half that.

      Also are people in those cities complaining about a new stadium?

      Plus the fact is the location is a much bigger problem then a new stadium. Hence why the Rays won't discuss a new stadium on the Trop site.

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      • jim says:

        cherry pick, that's the teams he gave me.

        guys, we're somewhere in the 20-25th in market size, yet you want us to be in the top 10 in attendance.

        once again, they raised prices for both walkups and season as much as 35%, and did away with free parking for all the good games. and they honestly expect the attendance to increase. how?

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        • Bob says:

          Those are the 3 worst teams in baseball and 2 still out draw the Rays.
          1 by a significant margin.

          I don't see what your numbers prove at all. Way to try to be tricky and used %filled.

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          • jim says:

            san diego is leading there division, new park and outdraw us by 1K per night.
            MARKET SIZE, MARKET SIZE

            answer my question. why did the rays expect to draw more by increasing prices and doing away with free parking? \

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          • Bob says:

            Because we have had the best record in baseball for pretty much the entire season so far. As compared to last year when we were never really in it after our terrible start.

            MARKET SIZE MARKET SIZE. Yes Jim you are exactly right. You are making this too easy.

            MARKET SIZE is exactly the problem. The fans dedication isn't the problem it's the amount that live within a reasonable distance to attend games regularly.

            As someone else posted

            http://www.abc-baseball.com/_resources/browse/file/abc-final-report-ppt-presentation.pdf

            Please look at the last slide of this presentation and there is all the evidence you should need. It shows exactly what the problem is(Hint: MARKET SIZE) and why a new more central location is the only solution.

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          • jim says:

            again???

            answer my question. why did the rays expect to draw more by increasing prices and doing away with free parking?

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          • Bob says:

            Jimbo

            Please read first paragraph above.

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          • jim says:

            bob,
            they decided to raise price before "we had the best record in baseball."

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    • Mark says:

      Jim,

      Houston - 27,415
      Baltimore - 23,719
      Rays - 22,301
      Pittsburgh - 18,983

      Rays -42-27
      Houston 26-44
      Pittsbugh 25-44
      Baltimore - 19-50

      Thanks for making my point for me

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  23. Gus says:

    Read the infamous Tampa Tribune editorials ("bombed out Albanian village) over the location of the stadium that date back to 1984 (the year the St. Pete City Council approved the building of the stadium). So it is 26 years, actually.

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