There has been little progress towards a new stadium for the Rays. As a result,  Stuart Sternberg unleashed his strongest words yet, firing a shot across the bow of the Bay Area.

Sternberg made it clear that if a new stadium is not approved in the Bay Area, Major League Baseball will step in and find a solution elsewhere for the Rays. And maybe an even better solution for Sternberg…

“It seems clearer to me by the day that we’re going to be the last man standing,” Sternberg said. “And everything I know, and talking to these guys, baseball is just not going to stand for it anymore. And they’ll find a place for me. They won’t find a place here though. So it’s up to us, to everybody, to figure out how to get it right…And that’s my real concern, that we won’t get to finish the job that I know we were right there to do.”

The most telling part of that quote is that Sternberg says MLB will “find a place for me.” Even if the Rays were to move out of the area, it sounds like it could be without Sternberg as the owner. Then it would be up to Bud Selig to find another ball club for Sternberg, whether that is the New York Mets or another situation in need of rescuing.

So what does this mean for the future of the Rays? We already know that contraction is not an option. And Sternberg made it clear last June that downtown St. Pete is not a long-term option for the Rays. So one way or another, St. Pete is going to lose the Rays. Now it is just a matter of how far the team will move.

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52 Comments

  1. SeanDubbs says:

    Sternberg has held up his end of the deal. I can't blame him if he's getting frustrated and impatient.

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    • Andy says:

      What deal would that be? Nobody promised him a new stadium when he bought the team, or even hinted at such a thing. Running a good business doesn't entitle you to government money.

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      • Tone says:

        Good comment, I am too angry with mine.

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      • Mark says:

        Andy,

        The deal was that if he gave this area a winner people would come.

        He held up his side. The area didn't.

        Clearly a new location is needed for this team to succeed

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        • Gus says:

          The deal is he bought a team with 24 years left on its lease. He bought it cheap.

          As to attendance, when the Rays attendance rank (23rd) matches up with payroll (24th) in 2010 and in almost all of the years the two have been correlated, I'd say the fans are holding up our end of the bargain.

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          • Mark says:

            I'm sorry, but going by payroll makes no sense at all.

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          • Gus says:

            How about 2M people watching baseball, paying the highest concessions in the league (in one of the cheapest markets to operate in)after 10 years of the most hopeless and hapless franchise ever to compete in American sports, all for some northerner who never has a nice thing to say about the taxpayers who give his team a free ballpark to play in, one that had 24 years to go on it lease. I'd say that is a complete miracle. That's his "deal". If he doesn't like it, put the team up for sale and go to the Mets games. Otherwise, shut up and spend some money on the bullpen, you cheap yankee.

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        • Jay says:

          Mark,

          You are implying that there are countless of better options out there for Stu. If they really are better than what is he waiting for. The bottom line is they aren't significant improvements and that's why Stu continues to play this tiresome game for a new stadium he can print money with.

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  2. I also do not blame him. The city of St. Petersburg needs to come to an agreement with the city of Tampa and let the Rays pursue the options there. Tampa can keep the team there for the longterm, there is little-to-no doubt in my mind about that.

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  3. Beth says:

    I have very mixed feelings about Sternberg's pronouncement.

    On the one hand, the "leadership" in our area -- both public and private sector -- botched the first effort to build a baseball park that would reasonably serve our region (giving us Tropicana Field) and don't seem to be up to the task of mounting a second effort.

    On the other hand, Sternberg's sense of entitlement; his pronouncement that "baseball won't stand for it any more," the assumption that we all have some kind of moral duty to cough up public money to construct a facility that enables a private business to run profitably....is more than a little galling.

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    • Tone says:

      Good comment as well. I think politicians suck, but Stu and MLB are more sucky in this situation.

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  4. Tone says:

    Then leave Stu. Tax payers are not required to fund your business venture. I love the Rays as a baseball team, but MLB and Stu can kiss my ass. The whole stadium thing is such a rip-off for cities. I lived in NYC while both the Yanks and Mets fleeced the area. Both clubs had sweetheart deals and yet they still did not hold up their end of the bargain when it came to the community. They robbed the city blind on the promise of doing some bullsh*t "community outreach programs", and then never followed through. Even if they held up their end it would have been a complete rip-off. This area does not need the Rays. Let some other city mortgage their future. I was happy to have both the sucky teams and the good ones, but I am completely sick of this issue and the bashing from biased media tools. I hate Wall Street NY trust fund babies and their sense of entitlement.

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    • Mark says:

      Tone,

      You do realize gov't money is given to private companies all the time.
      I feel like people think stadiums are the only case in which this happens.

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      • Beth says:

        Of course that's true, Mark. But seldom would a single company get the sort of grant a new stadium would require ($200-300 million). The only comparable public subsidy for a business I can think of is the money spent to create a facility for Scripps Labs near Jupiter, and the state and local government were willing to put in substantial resources because they felt that the facility would create high paying jobs in what they hoped would be growing sector. Can you really make such an argument for baseball? Most of the jobs created (past the construction phase) are seasonal and low-paying.

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        • Mark says:

          Beth see below. You are wrong. The teams adds much more value to the area and is worth the $200-$300 million

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          • Gus says:

            But we've built the stadium for them. It has only been used for 13 seasons. To demand a new one because the can't fill it is the ultimate governmental bail-out. Run a better business and shut up or sell the team and go back to watching the Mets.

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          • Rob Keesler says:

            While I don't agree with his approach, OR his allegiance to the Mets, the statistics don't lie. 650K population within a 30 minute drive of the Trop. Move it to Carillon, 1.3M people within a 30 minue drive of the Trop. Still LAST in MLB.

            Stu, you need a new Stadium in Tampa. Just make sure you attend the games bro.

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    • Derek says:

      So, what you're saying is, that you think you are better than them? Better than people that you have never met. Sounds like you have some entitlement issues, yourself.

      I hate Wall Street NY trust fund babies and their sense of entitlement.

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      • Tone says:

        I have lived and worked among people of Stu's class and upbringing for many years in New York City. Not all of them are bad people, but it is human nature to feel a sense of entitlement when your filthy rich and most people around you always say "yes" to every single thing. When something does not go your way, you whine like a baby because this goes against all that you have known. I am saddened that people such as yourself seem to feed into the negative storyline concerning the area and its sports fanbase. The Devil Rays sucked, really badly, and the "Rays" have only been good since 2008; in an area full of Phillies, Yankees, and Red Sox fans transplanted from up north. A new generation of Rays fans is growing and Stu knows this but his primary concern is getting his new stadium. Fine, but it's not happening right now, so you either shut up and deal, or you get the f*ck out of dodge. I will take either option, but the business leverage crap is so tired and old, I want it to stop and I am not alone. If the Rays leave, so be it, but they will owe the city a buttload of money.

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        • Derek says:

          I am saddened that people such as yourself seem to feed into the negative storyline concerning the area and its sports fanbase.

          People such as yourself. More entitlement??? Hmmm. Stu "whines" about you, then you whine about him whining, but somehow you are the better person here. You have placed yourself on his level, you are feeding this storyline, not me.

          Stu has a problem with the Stadium, and he choose to handle it the wrong way, but if you're going to cry about it, and not take action, what makes you better?

          I don't agree with how he has handled this now, but if I was as concerned as most of you, I'd do something other than post on this blog.

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      • Tone says:

        I am not crying about it, but if you feel gratified to have found some sort of hypocrisy, then good for you. What you are seeing in my comments is anger. I am sick of the Stu, MLB, and the media framing the issue in such a irresponsible one-sided way; basically propaganda for Stu and MLB's interest at the cost of my hometown. As for "why don't I do something about it?," well, I live in Tokyo and before that New York City; for many years. I attended 4 to 7 games over the years by timing out my visits during baseball season. My "entitlement" comes from growing up there, being a Devil Rays fan, and this is just a small blog where, last I checked, fans could have a tiny platform to speak their minds. My comments are just expressing the fact that I have had countless dealings with New York rich people similar to Stu, and from my personal sample size of experience, most of them are jerks, like Stu appears to be. Anyway, let's hope the team wins and lifts this bad vibe created by the owner. Keep your faith, whatever it is.

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        • Derek says:

          I'm just saying, that you are not better than these guys, just because you made your money in a different market. It's a very closed minded attitude, some would call it profiling, but it feeds your narrative, so it works, right?

          The timing of these comments upset me. The comments themselves worry me, but if I wanted something done, (like Stu leaving) I wouldn't sit here and make that demand on a blog. It gets nothing done, and in the end, it is no different than Stu saying baseball wont work here.

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          • Tone says:

            It's totally different. I am a FAN and he is the OWNER. I have zero responsibility except for buying merch and attending games(which I do). I understand it's profiling. But, as said in the comment, it's from my personal experience, those have relevance, but they are not absolute for sure. You don't like his attitude either, yet, our anger puzzles you. Not sure what your point is, but it is fun to see it. Some of us are venting and you are annoyed by our venting. Then you try and "school" us for posting on a blog, by posting on a blog too. Silly stuff. Stu bought this team when it was worth little and made it much more valuable. He is fine in this situation. The area will be fine without the Rays if it comes to that too. He and MLB will have to pay a lot of money to get out of the lease.

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          • Derek says:

            Which means he has more stake in the team than you, therefore, a right to speak his mind when he is not satisfied. You are satisfied with the product, are you not? If you answer yes, then he has fulfilled his responsibility. He shouldn't expect anything, from anyone, but as a business man, he should also never be satisfied with what he has. There is a reason he is a "trust fund baby" Like it or not, he has worked just as hard as anybody else to get where he has gotten, and with that power, he should be allowed to say what he feels without having to answer to his customers, because he is still giving them what he promised, a winning team.

            I can disagree, but I'm not requesting actions. Everyone here is requesting that actions be taken, which is no different than what Stu is doing, except that his actions effect his bottom line, and the only effect it has on you, is a negative effect on your entertainment value. Do you see my problem with everyone up in arms over this? This guy is trying to make money, and there is a lot standing in his way. He is just doing what he needs to do to remove them. Does that upset you? Yes, but in the end, too bad. Staying in St. Pete hurts him a hell of a lot more than leaving St. Pete will hurt you.

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  5. Derek says:

    I don't like how they are going about this now. I don't like how this has become a ritual for the week before the season. I wouldn't have been this upset, had this been talked about earlier.

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    • Jay says:

      I agree completely... we are going to do this again??? Right before the season starts? Because it clearly worked out last year...

      I'm about ready for Stu to take his marbles and go home. I don't care what he has done in bringing the Rays a winner... this is all about the money.

      You don't need a brighter contrast that how the Rays ownership are doing things and how the Bolts ownership are doing things.

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  6. Mike G. says:

    Isn't it possible that he is just referring to relocation with that quote, not necessarily selling the team?

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    • Cork Gaines says:

      Sure. But whenever Sternberg has talked about Rays operations in the past it is always him, Friedman and Silverman as equal parts. In fact, he is always quite emphatic that this is a group operation. So when he says "me," that tells me he is referring to the money, which is his part of the group dynamic.

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  7. sledge says:

    There are some very good points being made across this discussion line. Try to remove the emotion briefly and consider these elements:

    1) Politicians helped put is in this situation by building the stadium originally on cheap land rather than a location central to the region. Complaints are acceptable that people should be willing to drive farther. But retail sales is all about location, so it is hard to argue better location would not translate into better sales.

    2) Extremely rare is the case where regular businesses get big chunks of cash from the government. No one other than sports ventures gets that kind of cash without something in return with clear prospective value. Scripps is a great example. Unless Intel was considering relocation to Tampa Bay, it is hard to imagine citizens not being outraged at stadium size government dollars getting allocated to anyone in our current economic environment.

    3) MLB has very limited options given the size of markets without teams and the challenges they would face in contraction.

    This is not an easy situation to get out of for any of the parties. My own opinion is that it is important that cooler heads prevail, as smart people tend to find solutions to difficult problems. If emotions run too high, then smart guys tend to take advantage of emotional ones. I think we can all guess who would win in that scenario.

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    • Mark says:

      I'm sorry, but #2 is completely false.

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      • Mark says:

        CSX recieved almost $660 million from the state. That is much more then the Rays are asking.

        Stuff like this happens all the time. You just don't realize it

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  8. Razzlegator says:

    I'll miss the Rays, but $tu can't get out of town fast enough. What's that you say? He doesn't live here? He only shows up for the Yankees and Red Sox; and whenever some sh!t needs to be stirred up. Don't forget about the 5 markets that are out there that are better than the Bay Area, $tu. All 5 of them are probably falling all over themselves building bright new palaces for the Wall Street hucksters. They sure are keeping it quiet though.

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  9. Tom says:

    "Don’t forget about the 5 markets that are out there that are better than the Bay Area, $tu. All 5 of them are probably falling all over themselves building bright new palaces for the Wall Street hucksters. They sure are keeping it quiet though."

    Great Point

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  10. StPeteDave says:

    Yeah moving to Tampa will solve everything, I mean just look how the Bucs filled up in Tampa last year (with a wining team), maybe the Bucs should move across the Bay?

    This can 2 ways, either St.Pete lets them move somewhere in the north end near the bridges, or the Rays are leaving area all together. Tampa paid nothing to get the team or sustain them this far, and just because people in Tampa are too lazy to drive ten minutes (yes the trop is about ten min from getting on the HF) doesn't mean that they have a right to move them to Tampa.

    I am a Rays fan and season ticket holder and I would rather they leave the area altogether then leave St.Pete for Tampa, SO BE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    • Alex says:

      That's because the Bucs were terrible for a few years and no one expected anything from them. Before that the Bucs had no issues selling out so your point doesn't stand.

      Just remember guys, if Stu leaves, then Friedman and everyone else leaves. That will be a big disaster for us. You guys can keep saying the Rays and Sternberg can kiss your ass, but the reality of the situation is that if the Rays left the Tampa Bay area you would all be really pissed off.

      Sternberg is trying to set things in motion. Can you blame him? Bill Foster completely lied when he was going into office by saying he would work with the team on this issue. Instead he's acting like many of you are. It's like when a little kid says "I don't care if you take away my Xbox". Obviously you would care if the Rays left. Stop acting like you wouldn't.

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      • Joe says:

        Foster is trying to get the Rays at the table but that isn't happening. A waterfront propsal happened while Rick Baker was still Mayor. Stu is simply forcing a dictation of terms here. If Stu just sat down one more time, just go to the end with Bill, then maybe, just maybe he can have some court of public opinion that is somewhat favorable.

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  11. Joe says:

    I am sorry, but Stu Sternberg keeps proving his true colors. Just last week, he told Todd Kalas that (paraphrasing) "you know just as much as I know". These comments and Stu's general attitude indicate duplicity, deceit and contradiction.

    It is obvious Stu Sternberg is trying to dictate terms of "the game" to the Pinellas citizens and constituents. A little advice for Stu, I just said it on "Happy Hour with JP" and I will say it again right here. Go to Bill Foster, make your BEST effort to build a Carillon/Gateway ballpark, do it jointly. Have all the bells and whistles, lets get a cost estimate and see who can bring what to the table. If there needs to be a vote, let Pinellas and/or St. Pete vote and let the chips fall. THEN if you get thwarted, you can come back and cry some.

    Stu, you rushed the first proposal, sorry pal, you did. Now you look like a petulant and stubborn man hellbent on getting his way in this process. It is obvious that people in Stu's inner circle don't know the process because litigation in this is INEVITABLE!

    Stu's attitude is all wrong. It has been wrong and he has ruined the 2011 season just as he ruined the 2010 season with illtimed and illadvised threats and machinations. You managed to get very, very friendly mainstream media that is at your reckoning, ready to spew and say whatever you want.

    I draw the line in the sand. It's time to be a fan of this area. It's time for the doubletalk to end, the passive agressive threats to end. To build a new ballpark is a lot like our fanbase, it will take time, but the fans of Tampa Bay as well as us citizens are red-blooded and PASSIONATE. It will take time, but apparently Stu Sternberg doesn't have it. So, Stu I want to thank you for your two division titles and league pennant but now it is time that you leave. It is time you admit this is a hobby for you and you don't want to sit down with Bill Foster and the Pinellas Commissioners to put your BEST EFFORT down. It's time we stop hearing what kind of lousy and pathetic fans we are and have some real dialogue that will be bumpy but in the end be fruitful.

    It will take a lot of time, but its time for the faces to change. So be it.

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  12. Razzlegator says:

    "...baseball is just not going to stand for it anymore"
    I love baseball, but MLB is starting to be another story. Not only are we obligated to build them a stadium to satisfy their greed, we will be obligated to attend games and pay exorbitant prices for tickets and concessions. Now the only reason to look forward to this Friday is the chance to voice my displeasure with Skeletor. Perhaps $tu can make it a twofer and be on the mound with Scott. One in Yankee gear, and the other in Mets gear.

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  13. Joe says:

    The road uniforms are one thing (and bad enough), but this attitude that permeates from Stu through Andrew and especially Matt is just difficult to take. And I know its the arrogance of success and they think they have to have that proverbial chip on their shoulder. With a franchise and fanbase that blew chunks to the degree and level that the Rays did, well, it doesn't work like clockwork. As previous readers have said, what about the "five better cities", Stu? Oh that's right, you won't be questioned about it anymore. Any reprisal action on Todd Kalas for asking a THOUGHTFUL question?

    Who are we kidding, Stu? Have you any shred of decency? Is everything about greed and gluttony? Stu, understand you can't control the mechanisms and processes that will get you to Tampa if that is your wish. This could take as long as 10-12 years. Are you willing to wait or are you going to offer more threats? If you truly care as much as you say, you would SELL to someone with the local interests at heart, who is willing to rock n' roll through thick n' thin with the politicians. You bought the club 6 years ago, KNOWING the terms of the use agreement and you couldn't change the terms of it.

    I hope our media, besides the GREAT people like Cork and JP Peterson will come on board and look more closely and introspectively of what the intentions of Stu Sternberg is, how is he going about his business and realizing that his tactics and strategy are detrimental and destructive and divisive and not positive, tactful and bridging. For those who respect business acumen of Stu and what he's done, well, anyone compared to Vince Naimoli was going to be pretty close to a godsend. But Stu is not the saint or infallible figure that Marc Topkin says or Gary Shelton says. Also, I admit, he may not be a bad man, or a louse. But I think he fails to understand the actions and consequences of his line of thought. He may ultimately get what he wants, but at what cost? Even if he wins a scorched earth battle with politicians, what would it get him? How will he look? Is it worth it to him? He already is the carpetbagger.

    It's tough, but geez, does Stu have to sit on his hands? Doing that is maybe the worst course of action as he thinks someone will bail him out. Well Stu, if you really don't want to be the bad guy, its time to sell and thanks Tampa Bay.

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  14. Alex says:

    Another thing to remember guys. Its still a business. This is not some charity that he is running out of the goodness of his heart. He's a shrewd owner trying to gain leverage. I wish he wouldn't have said he was cutting the payroll last year and this probably isn't the best thing either but he is just trying to get things moving. If they don't get this stadium issue moving in a few years we could be sh*t out of luck.

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    • Joe says:

      Guess what, on the surface you are correct. But no one held a gun to Stu's head and agreed to an insidous television contract that costs him 60 cents on every dollar he is making. He should have made $15-20 million more PER YEAR if he didn't bet against the team and area when he negotiated that in 2008. Think about that for a minute, please.

      The stadium isn't everything as Stu says he is. It's too bad more people can't see that.

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      • Derek says:

        And what were the TV ratings back then? Think about that for a minute, please. Hindsight is what again? Back then, it was a bad business move to carry the Rays. What was he going to do, say that: I predict we will win the AL East two out of three years, now sign this contract that will net me $15,000,000 while you can't even pay people to advertise during a game.

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        • Tone says:

          You are a funny dude; so pissed off because people are pissed. You are complaining about our complaints.

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          • Derek says:

            You're a cool cat. Standing up to trust fund babies, by posting on the internet. I'm taking action to remove the crap I don't want to see anymore, you're just crying.

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    • Derek says:

      I wonder if these people post on BP's message board. How mad where you guys when they dumped all that oil into your gulf? How about those gas prices?

      How about the price of an iPad??? That must grind your gears, right?

      The problem is, people think they are owed decency, that they should be treated with respect. Somewhere along the line, they have decided they are more important than Stu's bottom dollar. Now that he has has proven otherwise, everybody is oh so upset.

      It's ironic to me that a bunch of people are complaining about a guy who is complaining about them.

      Stu provides a service, he has a right to be upset when people aren't buying his service, but you people do buy his service, and then you complain about it. I'd say that you all have been punked. I say we have a jersey burning party, that will show him!

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      • Beth says:

        I completely respect Sternberg's right to run his business the way he sees fit.

        But when he asks me as a tax payer to help him fund a stadium, then he has decided to bring me into the discussion.

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        • Tone says:

          Well said. You are better at this than I am. I defer to you. It's night here anyway.

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        • Derek says:

          And what happens when he asks taxpayers for money? A vote. So, vote no. The discussion, if that's what this is called, is not needed.

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          • Beth says:

            No, Derek, you really don't get my point.

            First, not all public subsidies to a business would require a vote. It would depend on how the public funds are raised.

            Secondly, I don't want to vote no. I actually would be excited to see a new, well designed stadium in an accessible area that would be part of a real revitalization effort. But if taxpayers were to agree to this, the public would become a partner in this deal. If Sternberg were to raise money from a bank or from investors, they would demand to see his books and have some say in future business decisions. Teams asking for publicly funded stadiums must similarly treat the public sector as partners who have the right to review accounts and raise concerns.

            What I object to is the idea that Sternberg or any other professional team owner can have it both ways -- they are a private business when it comes to reporting profits, but a public amenity when it comes to demanding access to public funds.

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          • Tone says:

            Wow, you are really making a big difference. Your clever posts, that so eloquently put us in our place, have worked miracles. I'm sure people here will refrain from opining anything against your sensibilities from now on. Sharp wit like yours cuts deep. "Hurts so Good". Mellencamp, John Cougar.

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      • Joey says:

        Well said Derek!!!!

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  15. Edward says:

    well, here we go again, the beginning of a new season and our owner can't keep his mouth shut, I am beginning to wish he would stay in n.y, To me it sounds like he is trying to sabatoge another season, so he can say , "see know one is coming". Maybe somebody can tell me what the population in this area is, if i am correct , and i probably am not, it's around 2-3 million people. Our attendance last year was close to 2 million,(i think around 1.8) that seems to me to be pretty good. Now i know he is a buisness man who wants to make money, fine, i don't have a problem with that, but give us fans a break, do we need to here this the week before the season starts, why not during the off season. Oh wait , i get it , they wanted to see how many season tickets were sold before he opened his mouth again. Personally i don't see that many more tickets being sold in tampa. Will we sell out every night in downtown tampa , no.
    So how many more tickets does he want to sell. He wants out that's all there is to it. I give him credit for bringing respectability to the team, but he knew what he was getting into. Nobody promised him sell outs everynight. What is it with this area and owners. Oh and for stpete dave, it's people like you who can't get over the tampa , st. pete thing, i drive the hf everyday and it is more than 10 min, oh and i do go to rays games. How many lightning games do you go to . I hope a lot. Because i guess when the rays move to tampa you aren't going to go anymore.

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