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Kriseman: Trop potential soccer site if Rays leave

By Joe Smith

St. Pete mayor Rick Kriseman has made it clear he'd love the Rays to stay in the city, whether it's the current Tropicana Field site or somewhere else in the county. 

At the very least, Kriseman hopes the team remains in the the Tampa Bay region.

But Kriseman floated an interesting potential alternative for the Trop today on 620-AM.

Kriseman said if the Rays decide to leave the site, the Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber is "excited and intrigued" by the Trop as a larger soccer-orientated stadium that could host the Rowdies and world tournaments.

The Rowdies, which currently play at Al Lang Stadium, are making a push to join MLS.

"We're committed to the Rays," Kriseman said on 620-AM. "But if the Rays make a decision for wahtever reason that this site isn't the best location for them - we certainly hope they stay in St. Pete or Pinellas County, or certainly the region. But if that's the decision they make, that site potentially could be a location for a larger soccer orientated that just wouldn't host the Rowdies, but host world tournaments.  And (the MLS) commissioner expressed some interest in that."

Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg said they have some Pinellas sites in mind, and are waiting for Hillsborough County officials to weigh in. The team hopes to have a site picked out by the end of the season, but it could be by the end of the year.

Can St. Pete support both the Rays and the Rowdies?

"I think we can," Kriseman said. "I was very public in my support for the Rowdies stadium referendum. I think the city can support two teams. I visited earlier this year with the (MLS) commissioner in New York and he and I have talked recently. He loves St. Pete, so I think we're in the running."