Rays may play in Orlando area
Seeking to expand their fan base in the Orlando area, the Devil Rays are exploring playing a three-game May series at the Disney sports complex.
The team has held preliminary talks about the shift, team president Matt Silverman said, but numerous issues - including approval from Major League Baseball and the players union - need to be resolved for the May 15-17 games against Texas to be moved. The Rays also would have to satisfy season-ticket holders and sponsors who were expecting a full 81-game schedule at Tropicana Field.
"We want to cultivate support throughout our region and the Orlando area is an important part of what we consider our region,'' Silverman said.
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker said he has spoken with Rays princial owner Stuart Sternberg about the possibility and was open to anything that made the team stronger.
Baker said he was not concerned the shift was a first step of the team moving to Orlando, and Silverman said that was not at all an issue.
"That's not the reason for considering this,'' Silverman said. "All of our regional efforts are focused on increasing our fan base throughout the state of Florida and bringing more fans to St. Petersburg and Tropicana Field.'
The Ballpark at Disney's Wide World of Sports is the spring training home of the Atlanta Braves. Capacity is about 9,500, but with berm seating it can hold in excess of 11,000 and could possibly be slightly expanded further.