Sternberg in Fox interview: "Very unrealistic" for team to leave Tampa Bay, more on stadium issue, Price
Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg said in a recent national interview it's "very unrealistic" that the Rays will leave the Tampa Bay area, at least if it's up to him (though also that "the decision can be taken out" of his hands by MLB) and he hopes serious work on the stadium issue in St. Petersburg will commence at the end of the season.
Speaking to FoxSports.com at last week's MLB Diversity Business Summit in Houston, Sternberg also said he expects LHP David Price to still be with the Rays at this time next season and that he could stay long-term.
Here are some excerpts, and a link to the full interview:
FS: What are the realistic chances the Rays leave the Tampa Bay area?
SS: It’s very unrealistic. If it’s up to me, it’s very unrealistic. There’s certainly been a lot of discussion, from others within baseball, that we should get the hell out of there. It’s not in my makeup to do that. I am committed to doing whatever I can, until I can no longer do it, to make it work there.
FS: The St. Petersburg mayor is up for reelection this year. Is the process on hold pending the outcome of the election?
SS: I’ve chatted with the mayor. We’ve talked. I feel better than I did a year ago — or the year before that, or the year before that, or the year before that. I don’t feel good about it. But I feel better. We’ll see. I’d like to think we’re going to be able to make progress. I really shy away from doing any of this in-season. Ideally, we’ll tackle it in earnest at the end of the season.
FS: Is it safe to say that, eventually, there has to be a new stadium in Tampa Bay or you’ll sell the club?
SS: Eventually, yeah. I would suppose so. But if that happens, by doing that, I could be ensuring baseball is there anyhow. The other side is, in fairness, we receive a lot of revenue-sharing money each year.
It should be expected from other owners, if (we) put a winning product on the field, get to the playoffs and World Series, (they) shouldn’t have to share much money with (us) for the next couple years.
I think ours is the only franchise — maybe I’m mistaken — that has been to the World Series (recently) and we still had to take a lot of money in revenue sharing. The fact that all the other owners are consistently writing checks to us and see no way to get out of it, some of this will be their desires. … The decision can be taken out of my hands at some point. If you haven’t made any progress, and it’s not working where you are, (MLB could say), ‘We’re going to duke it out. This team is going to be somewhere else, whether it’s 10 miles away or 510 miles away.’
FS: Getting back to the roster, David Price will be two years from free agency at the end of this season. No matter what, by then you’re not going to have revenues from a new ballpark to sign him long term. What are the chances he’s going to be a Ray at this time next year?
SS: I expect him to be a Ray at this time next year, absolutely. I don’t envision a scenario that he’s not. Given some of the contracts signed recently by pitchers, it’s difficult to have a Cy Young Award winner in the prime of his career that fits into the Rays’ mold — even if our revenues are up. That doesn’t mean it can’t happen