With just 20 days left in the memorandum of understanding (MOU) window which allowed the Tampa Bay Rays to search regionally for a new stadium site, principal owner Stuart Sternberg told the media Tuesday the plan to build a stadium in Ybor City is no longer viable. The team remains committed to looking again for a new home in Tampa Bay.
Rays principal owner Stu Sternberg addressed media today regarding the proposed ballpark location in Ybor City. pic.twitter.com/Y7KamIJh2d
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) December 11, 2018
During a press conference from the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, Sternberg said the lack of details and progress for the proposed $892-million stadium in Ybor City was not going to work and there was no point in asking for an extension on the December 31 MOU deadline. Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred earlier sent a letter to Hillsborough County officials, saying the framework of the deal was lacking too many details.
While the momentum and progress are real, we are not close at all to a workable framework, Sternberg said. We’ve had a long time. Three years is a long time. … While I am wildly disappointed by the result, I’m not discouraged.
Sternberg said they are are a “pretty resourceful” and “pretty determined” group that remains optimistic and firmly committed to helping the team remain in Tampa Bay for decades and generations to come … that the team has no plans to try to leave the area before the end of 2027 use agreement at the Trop.
Team president Brian Auld indicated that while there is no specific next step or site in mind, “Everything is back on the table.”
Everything is back on the table, Auld said. As we’ve been at this for 10 years now we continue to take the same approach as we have over that time. … We are a resourceful group, we’ll get as creative as we possibly can, we’ll work with all the partners that we can to make this thing a reality. While today is certainly disappointing and represents a bit of a setback we have great partners on both side of the bay that have shown a willingness and eagerness to get this resolved. And both sides have a lot to gain from getting this resolved regardless where the ultimate location is.
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman — by way of the Baseball Forever campaign — previously pitched a stadium proposal in April of 2017, where a stadium would be constructed on the eastern side of the Tropicana Field site.
— Noah Pransky (@noahpransky) December 11, 2018
On Tuesday, the mayor also left open the door to working with the team, saying in a statement he stands “ready if asked, to continue the conversation related to the organization’s future in St. Pete.”
Does this mean Trop site won’t be redeveloped until 2027? No. But @Kriseman will wait for @RaysBaseball to come to the city with a plan. No discussions about Derby Lane, Al Lang or Albert Whitted. pic.twitter.com/VRVQqRTERy
— Josh Solomon (@ByJoshSolomon) December 11, 2018
As of now, there are four feasible and/or rumored sites in Pinellas: Tropicana Field, Derby Lane, Al Lang Stadium, and Albert Whitted Airport. However, only one site has been discussed as of now: the Trop. It should also be noted that Derby Lane is privately held property and on county land, not within the St. Petersburg city limits.
Should the Rays decide to build at Tropicana Field site, they stand to make 50% of the redevelopment rights of the site, which could make them far more profitable than in Tampa.
For what it’s worth, Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times) thinks a facility could work splendidly at the Al Lang Stadium site.
This story is still breaking, and we will have more reactions and hot-takes as it unfolds.
— Rays Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations Bloom said Tuesday there were more talks of trades, that “we advanced the ball a little bit on some fronts.” However, no specifics were given. As I wrote yesterday, Nelson Cruz and Charlie Morton are among those in play, although nothing is imminent.
The interest (in the Rays) is genuine, Dixon said, planning to talk again with the Rays soon. We’re kind of in the middle of trying to get some concrete numbers and finish the dialogue with the teams. The Rays have been in there the entire time.
Both Cruz and his agent, Bryce Dixon, said the matchup would be “a perfect fit,” but three to four other teams (likely the Twins, White Sox, and Astros) also are interested, and because of it, the Rays are continuing to explore other options.
Other trade options are said to include Jose Martinez (Cardinals) and Carlos Santana (Mariners), and INF Yandy Diaz (Cleveland), who hasn’t much big league experience.
As for Morton, 35, the late bloomer spent the last two seasons in Houston, going 29-10 with a 3.36 ERA. Last season he earned $7-million (plus incentives) and threw 171-2/3 innings — his most since 2011. Despite his age, Morton has not shown any immediate signs of physical regression.