MLB commissioner Manfred encouraged about potential for new Rays stadium
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said today he is encouraged about political support and potential for a new stadium for the Rays in the Tampa Bay area.
Manfred said his encouragement stems from a recent private conversation with St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman at a conference in which he senses there was support among area politicians.
"I find encouraging the fact that it seems that politicians in the area - broadly defined - are interested in getting something done and keeping the Rays in St. Petersburg-Tampa or Tampa-St. Petersburg, which ever way you want to say it,'' Manfred said during a q-and-a session with members of the Baseball Writers Association of America. "I find that to be encouraging.''
Manfred also said MLB is not at stage of considering relocation for the Rays, and won't unless he and principal owner Stuart Sternberg conclude that they can't get a new stadium in the Tampa Bay area.
"We will not get to the point of exploring relocation unless and until Mr. Sternberg and I in consultation or togteher reach the conclusion that it is not possible to get something in the market where he exists now,'' Manfred said.
Manfred also said MLB "absolutely feels the (Tampa Bay) market is viable" and the Rays' attendance issues are "facility related," in terms of the Trop building and location.
Manfred did say he is "open to the idea" of possible expansion, and that MLB has a list of viable cities, and offerred some praise for Montreal. But, after noting the sucesss of exhibtion games the last two springs at aged Olympic Stadium, Manfred said, "It's a long way from two exhibition games to 81 home games in a facility that is consistent with major-league standards.''
Manfred said at the media session he had spoken with Buckhorn, but his office told the Times the two had not spoken, nor even met. When that was related to Manfred's spokesman, he said the commissioner was wrong, that he had talked with Kriseman at the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting.