Rays owner Stuart Sternberg says contribution to new stadium could rise based on business community interest

Speaking at a conference in New York, Sternberg reiterated that support for tickets and sponsorships will be key to kicking in more than $150-million
Principal owner Stuart Sternberg will have a lot to talk about on the stadium issue. [WILL VRAGOVIC / Tampa Bay Times ]
Principal owner Stuart Sternberg will have a lot to talk about on the stadium issue. [WILL VRAGOVIC / Tampa Bay Times ]
Published Nov. 30, 2017|Updated Nov. 30, 2017

Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg reiterated today to a New York audience that how much the team contributes to a proposed new stadium will depend on how much support it gets from the Tampa Bay business community.

Sternberg told the Tampa Bay Times Nov. 15 that the initial ballpark number for the team contribution to the estimated $800-million project on the Ybor City site would be $150-million but could change based on interest expressed in season tickets, sponsorships and other business partnerships and the resulting increase in revenue projections.

Speaking Wednesday at SportsBusiness Daily and Journal's first Dealmakers in Sports conference, Sternberg said they are looking for "some commitments" of support from the business community in determining the actual amount.

"That's really what's going to drive the difference between us being able to put up $150M, and if we find that those things are more robust, then that number can certainly go up," he said, per SportsBusiness Daily.

"I don't want to build an edifice to myself. I don't want to put up a building and have it not move the needle for us at all."

Sternberg also said the amount of the team contribution would be relative to overall expenses as they want to use the additional revenue in different ways, not just toward the stadium.

The $150-million, he said, allows them "to make a contribution, pay off our debt over 25 years – whatever it has to be – and still do what we want to do, which is put a more successful product on the field. … For us to be able to go in and break even again at a $65M payroll, it doesn't make sense. We want to be able to jump the payroll if we're taking that sort of risk."

Sternberg also noted, as he has previously, that since attendance was not improved by winning – as they made the playoffs four times in six years – he can't assume that just building a new stadium will be the answer and thus needs to see the commitments from the community.

"We never had real growth at the box office," he said. "We're going to have to see what Tampa Bay has, because I can't completely put my faith in the idea that if we just build a stadium it's going to work."

Overall, Sternberg said progress on the new stadium was "moving" along.