Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Baseball commissioner Selig says patience thin over Rays attendance

NEW YORK — Baseball commissioner Bud Selig said his patience is running thin in his latest ominous-sounding assessment of the Rays' ongoing attendance and stadium issues.

"It is beyond disappointing," Selig said Tuesday. "You cannot ask a franchise to continue, when they have been so competitive and really, really done a marvelous job, in a situation that is economically not tolerable."

Selig offered no solutions or deadlines, saying he will continue conversations with Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg, but took a double-barreled shot at the Tampa Bay situation.

He called the Rays' attendance "very disappointing and very worrisome," citing their average 17,791, which ranks 29th in the majors (ahead of only Miami) and well below the overall average of 30,268.

"Look at their club in the major leagues and it's competitive, and is averaging 18,000 people a game," he said. "That may have been okay in 1956, but it's not okay today."

And Selig said Tropicana Field, where the Rays are in the 16th season of a 30-year use agreement, is a major issue.

"There's no question there's a stadium problem," Selig said. "There's no debate about it. The question is what to do about it and when to do it and where, and those are conversations Mr. Sternberg and I will have."

Selig, speaking to the Baseball Writers Association of America, made it sound as if those talks with Sternberg will become more urgent.

"I have a very high level of frustration," Selig said. "I think my patience is running as thin as his, if not more so. I don't know what will happen with that; he and I need to have a lot more conversations."

Selig said he would discuss with Sternberg the possibility of a visit to talk with Tampa Bay area officials.

Team president Matt Silverman said the Rays had no comment on Selig's comments. Sternberg has had talks with St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster and said he hopes the issue heats up after the season.

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]

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