SBD/February 17, 2011/Franchises

Rays Owner Stuart Sternberg Optimistic About Team's Future In Tampa Bay

Sternberg says the Rays have lost a "ton of money" over the last couple of years
Rays Owner Stuart Sternberg yesterday said that he is “optimistic things can work out” for the team in the Tampa Bay area, according to Gary Shelton of the ST. PETERSBURG TIMES. Sternberg indicated that he has “not been contacted by other areas in search of a team,” and that he “has not given up on Tampa Bay.” Sternberg: “We have a tremendous amount of interest. I would like to believe the potential is still here for it to translate into box office. ... I would have expected it to happen already. But that doesn't mean it can't happen. The important thing for us is to understand why it isn't happening. And the main issue is clearly the stadium." Sternberg said the organization is “dead-set on making it work” in the Tampa Bay area. Sternberg: “I have not been approached by any other area as far as moving the team, and I would not engage in any discussions about it." But he added, "Every year that goes by increases the possibility that we won't be here. We can't keep kicking the can down the road. I'm not a guy who kicks the can down the road. If there is something inevitable, you have to deal with it. At some point, my partners in baseball are going to throw their hands up in the air and say 'enough is enough'" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 2/17). Meanwhile, Sternberg, a Mets season-ticket holder said he has “no intention of purchasing or looking at purchasing the Mets.” Sternberg: “It’s the Wilpons’ team and I can’t envision it. The Wilpons have been great to me. They’ve been welcoming. They’ve been nothing but kind and help advance what we are trying to do. They are big fans of ours” (N.Y. POST, 2/17).

MUST GO DOWN TO GO UP: The Rays this year reduced their payroll by about 40%, and Sternberg said, “We lost a ton of money the last couple of years. You can't go on very long doing that. I suppose we could have spent more this year, but then the team the next few years would have been dramatically worse.” He added, “Certainly, if our revenues were higher, if the situation were different, we would have more to spend -- and I'd be thrilled to do it." Sternberg said that the “reduction in payroll is part of a cycle the team must endure every few years in order to survive” (MLB.com, 2/16).
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