ST. PETERSBURG, FL-Following a meeting with St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster, Tampa Bay Rays principal
owner Stuart Sternberg said the team wants to explore all potential new ballpark options within Tampa Bay,
including those outside St. Petersburg and Pinellas County.
"The future of Major League Baseball in Tampa Bay depends on finding the optimal site for a new ballpark,"
said Sternberg. "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."
Added Sternberg, "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."
Sternberg said he believes baseball can succeed in Tampa Bay and that he is committed to doing all he can to keep the team in the region.
"When I assumed control of the Rays almost five years ago, it was commonly assumed that winning would
change everything at Tropicana Field. Everyone believed that with a winning team on the field, fans would fill
the stands. That has not been the case."
Sternberg continued, "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."
In discussing the Rays future, Sternberg confirmed that he wants the team to remain in Tampa Bay but for that
to happen a regional discussion needs to begin soon.
"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."
Sternberg said being able to explore all possible stadium options to keep the team in Tampa Bay was "the right thing for our fans and for all the residents of Tampa Bay."
Until that discussion began in earnest, he continued, the team cannot and will not make a decision on a future ballpark in Tampa Bay and the air of uncertainty over the future of Major League Baseball in the area will
continue to linger.
"The Rays are a valued member of our regional community, and that's exactly how we want things to remain,"
Sternberg said. "We appreciate all the support we have received from our loyal base of fans and supporters in
both turning around this franchise and in trying to figure out how to keep it here in Tampa Bay."
Sternberg concluded, "The Rays organization stands ready to engage. We have an opportunity to secure the
future of Major League Baseball in Tampa Bay. I look forward to working with you."
Note that the quote contained in the headline of this post is pulled directly from the press conference itself, but is not included in the press release.