It’s an issue that looms even as the Rays enter another season with hope and promise. The stadium situation. Tropicana Field remains home for now and so too does the criticism of the ballpark’s condition, location and age. Can Tampa Bay, the team and the community, resolve the problem and keep Major League Baseball in the region? Or will the franchise relocate to parts elsewhere? We ask the roundtable.
Come back and ask me in 6 years
Marc Topkin, Rays beat writer @TBTimes_Rays: In three years, Tropicana Field. In five years, the Trop. In 10 years? Good question, but it’s somewhere in the Tampa Bay area. Ybor (round 2)? Derby Lane? Albert Whitted? Channelside?
Don’t rule out relocation
Eduardo A. Encina, Bucs/pro sports enterprise writer, @EddieintheYard: Three and five years from now, the Rays will still be playing at your favorite dome sweet dome. Now the crystal ball is hazy 10 years from now because so many things can happen. Relocation is a possibility, and I think Portland has the most well-organized group to draw a team. But here’s the thing, MLB wants to expand to 32 teams, which would allow realignment that would mean less travel, which most teams and players like. But before that happens the stadium issues here and in Oakland must be resolved. The Rays must revisit the Ybor project, because it is the best spot, but not before having better forethought with funding. If not there, then pursue the Derby Lane site, where there’s space to put a ballpark and build around it (Think Atlanta) and there’s improved infrastructure on Gandy.
Dome sweet dome
Thomas Bassinger, sports data reporter, @tometrics: I expect the Rays to be playing at the Trop for at least the next five seasons. A decade from now? I’m not so sure. My guess is somewhere in Tampa Bay, specifically in Tampa. It’s hard for me to see the Rays packing up and leaving a borderline top 10 television market. Portland, Nashville, San Antonio and Las Vegas all pale in comparison. North Carolina makes some sense. You can count on this much: You’ll see an ownership change before a relocation.
Live at the Sands
Martin Fennelly, columnist @mjfennelly: In three years: St. Petersburg. In five years: St. Petersburg. In 10 years: Las Vegas. Rays owner Stu Sterberg, not wanting blood on his hands, sells team to MLB, which makes it a sports trouka in Sin City. This will be the greatest sin of all. See you at the Clearwater Threshers games.
It depends on Sternberg
Ernest Hooper, columnist/assistant sports editor, @hoop4you: If the Rays are to stay in Tampa Bay, they have to move to Tampa or closer to Tampa. For that to happen, frankly, owner Stuart Sternberg needs to make more of an effort to touch community leaders. He needs to move here. He needs to live here. Tampa is the biggest small town in America, and right or wrong, he has to integrate himself more into the world of local business leaders and elected officials if he hopes to gain more support. It’s not enough to send out his capable and well meaning presidents: Brian Auld and Matt Silverman. That said, at the three-year and five-year intervals, the Rays will still call Tropicana Field. But in 10 years, we may have a new reason to call Portland “Rip City.”
Raybor: Not dead yet?
Frank Pastor, digital sports editor, @frankpastor66: In three years, St. Petersburg. Five years, Still St. Petersburg. Ten years? Hopefully, Ybor City. Yes, that possibility appears to be dead at the moment. But these things often die two or three deaths before they gain any real traction. It’s all part of the negotiating process. True, real challenges loom. Entanglements, too. But here’s the bottom line: The Rays believe Ybor is the best place in Tampa Bay for a ballpark. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred seems to believe in the site, too. And, I believe there is still a chance it gets done.
Here to stay
Mike Sherman, sports editor, @mikesherman: I’m with Marc. I’ll take two Trops and somewhere on the water in Tampa Bay.