Monday, September 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Evan Longoria: Rays might be better off leaving Tampa Bay

PHILADELPHIA — At a critical juncture when Rays, business and government leaders are trying to secure the long term future of baseball in the Tampa Bay area by building a new stadium, the greatest player in franchise history said they may be wasting their time.

"Honestly, and this is maybe not something I should say, but my gut tells me that the best decision might be to move the team,'' Evan Longoria said Thursday. "I say that only because I look at the example of the Miami Marlins, and (a new stadium) didn't really solve their attendance issues. So from purely an attendance standpoint, somewhere else might be better.''

RELATED: Read more Rays news

Longoria spent 10 years with the Rays before being traded to the Giants in December, investing in several homes and a popular business, Ducky's sports lounge, in the Tampa Bay area during his tenure.

As part of a wide-ranging interview Thursday with the Tampa Bay Times before the Giants-Phillies game, Longoria said he is not convinced that the franchise can be successful in the Tampa Bay market even with a new stadium, noting the annually low, and frequently majors-worst, attendance that leaves Tropicana Field largely empty and quiet on most nights.

"It pains me to say that, but players want to play in a place where you have consistent support,'' Longoria said. "It's a selfish thing to say probably as a player, but, I don't know, does anyone really want to play in front of 10,000 a night? I don't know. I'm glad I won't have to hear the backlash again this time (for making comments about attendance, as when he played there).

"There are a lot of dedicated Rays fans … and obviously it would be a shame for those people to lose the team. But you just hope there is consistent fan support, and it historically hasn't been there. I don't know that it's the easiest case to lobby to build a new stadium in the area. It's not a slam dunk.''

If there is going to be a new stadium built in the Tampa Bay area, Longoria said his "good answer and realistic answer" is it definitely should be on the Tampa side.

But he did not agree with the Ybor City site that has been identified as the top choice.

"I think they should move across the street from Raymond James (Stadium, on Dale Mabry Highway),'' he said. "They should build a stadium that looks just like Houston, or very similar to (Minute Maid Park, which has a retractable roof). You can't play outside there (in Tampa Bay), it has to be a retractable. And obviously it should be grass. If you can do it in Houston you can do it in Florida – you can grow grass in Florida indoors.

"That would be the best thing, I think, just to make it in an easily accessible place where you know 30,000-40,000 people can get in and out easily because they do it for 80,000 at Raymond James already.''

Longoria also mentioned the Jeff Vinik-controlled Channelside area of Tampa as an intriguing option. He did not suggest any potential out-of-market destinations if the team, which is signed to play at Tropicana Field through 2027, were relocated.

"I think it has to move to Tampa,'' Longoria said. "If you're staying in the area, it has to move somewhere over there.''

More Rays  coverage

Rays calling up Anthony Banda

How the Rays look under the cover of Lightning

A special Mother's Day for Mallex Smith's grandmother

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected] Follow @TBTimes_Rays

Comments
Snell wins No. 21 as Rays beat Blue Jays 5-2

Snell wins No. 21 as Rays beat Blue Jays 5-2

TORONTO — Blake Snell doesn't look like he can be stopped.He pitched again for the Rays in Sunday's 5-2 victory over the Blue Jays, he dominated again and he won again.That's both a major-league-leading and team-record-breaking 21st victory for...
Published: 09/23/18
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Sunday’s Rays-Blue Jays game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Sunday’s Rays-Blue Jays game

Part of what makes LHP Blake Snell so good is his deep, high-quality repertoire, having four above-average pitches, which is more than most. When fastball command isn't sharp, he can still beat you with an assortment of top-notch curves, sliders and ...
Published: 09/23/18
Rays journal: Teammates come through for Blake Snell

Rays journal: Teammates come through for Blake Snell

TORONTO — LHP Blake Snell knows he is the one getting all the attention for the remarkable season he has compiled, but he wants to make sure his teammates get some of the credit."It's cool that it's under my name,'' Snell said, "but it's all of...
Published: 09/23/18
For starters: Rays at Jays, with Snell seeking No. 21

For starters: Rays at Jays, with Snell seeking No. 21

UPDATE, 12:14: Snell takes the mound today leading the AL in wins, ERA (1.97) and opponents average (.179). … Cash noted that Snell "is in elite company now with the Rays, and he has the chance to stand alone." …  The Rays note that ...
Published: 09/23/18
Rays journal: Blue Jays spoil wild-card bid

Rays journal: Blue Jays spoil wild-card bid

TORONTO — There was no drama, no emotional rescues after Saturday's game.After feeling, appropriately, crushed after they gave away Thursday's game, blowing a six-run lead in the ninth, then bouncing back Friday, the Rays on Saturday faced a st...
Published: 09/22/18
Updated: 09/23/18
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Saturday’s Rays-Blue Jays game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Saturday’s Rays-Blue Jays game

OF Tommy Pham insists he doesn't feel locked in at the plate. Interesting, since it's hard to imagine he could get much hotter: 345 in 31 games since coming to the Rays and .402 while reaching base in 24 straight games, a career best and current AL h...
Published: 09/22/18
20 things about Mr. 20 Blake Snell, including, yes, blocking his mom on his phone

20 things about Mr. 20 Blake Snell, including, yes, blocking his mom on his phone

TORONTO — Twenty things about Blake Snell as he takes the mound Sunday for the first time as a 20-game winner.Snell …• Is the first 20-game winner in the majors since 2016.• Will have the fewest innings of any 20-game winner i...
Published: 09/22/18
Rays Tales: And the winners are …

Rays Tales: And the winners are …

This season won't end up among the most successful in the Rays' 21-year franchise history, but I'd make the case it might be the most interesting.From the winter/spring purge of the veterans, dire predictions for 100-plus losses, frigid 1-8/4-13 star...
Published: 09/22/18
Rays lose again to Jays, 5-2, end is in sight

Rays lose again to Jays, 5-2, end is in sight

TORONTO – Friday's bounce back didn't carry over for the Rays, and after a 5-2 loss to the Blue Jays on Saturday, they are close to being officially bounced from the race for the final American League playoff spot.The Rays opened the series in ...
Published: 09/22/18
For starters: Rays at Blue Jays, with Meadows in the lineup

For starters: Rays at Blue Jays, with Meadows in the lineup

UPDATE, 2:41: Cash said Kiermaier was "a little banged up" from a slide on Thursday so he gave him the day off vs. the lefty but is available, and that allowed Meadows to be in the lineup. … Cash also said Ji-Man Choi, who left Friday's game wi...
Published: 09/22/18