Tampa Bay Rays' Sternberg optimistic about business support for new stadium

Teamwork builds playground Rays owner Stuart Sternberg, center, helps move a playground rock wall into place Saturday. He was one of more than 200 volunteers from the Rays organization, the James B. Sanderlin Family Center, Kaboom and the community to join forces to build a playground at the Sanderlin Center. The design is based on drawings created by kids who participated in a Design Day event in October.

MELISSA LYTTLE | Times

Teamwork builds playground Rays owner Stuart Sternberg, center, helps move a playground rock wall into place Saturday. He was one of more than 200 volunteers from the Rays organization, the James B. Sanderlin Family Center, Kaboom and the community to join forces to build a playground at the Sanderlin Center. The design is based on drawings created by kids who participated in a Design Day event in October.

ST. PETERSBURG — Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg was building near downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday — not a new ballpark, but a playground in partnership with the Kaboom program at the Sanderlin Family Center.

But after months of a stalemate on the stadium issue, Sternberg said he was optimistic about the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce's commitment to spend the next year studying financing options.

"I think any discussion is good discussion," Sternberg said, "and the thing that is most — that gives me some optimism — is the fact that it's coming from the business side of things."

That's especially true since he considered the business community's lack of interest glaring during the team's failed 2007-08 bid to get a new downtown St. Petersburg waterfront stadium.

"When we took our large swing at a stadium a few years ago, the business side just was not there to help support the initiative," Sternberg said. "That was the most disappointing, I think, from a couple years ago.

"To see the businesses getting together to try to lead this initiative, I think is an optimistic sign."

Sternberg told the Times last month he hoped leaders from all aspects of the community — individuals, smalls groups, competing groups — would step up and "try to help figure this thing out," as with the 1980s-90s effort to land a team.

At Saturday's event, about 150 employees from the Rays organization joined volunteers in a one-day build of the playground less than 20 blocks from their current home at Tropicana Field.

Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@sptimes.com.

Tampa Bay Rays' Sternberg optimistic about business support for new stadium 12/18/10 [Last modified: Saturday, December 18, 2010 8:43pm]

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