Rays' Sternberg Optimistic About Agreement To End Ballpark Stalemate With St. Petersburg
Rays Owner Stuart Sternberg yesterday "sounded optimistic" that his "long-standing stadium impasse with St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster might soon be resolved," according to a front-page piece by Topkin, Puente & Nohlgren of the TAMPA BAY TIMES. Sternberg said, "The mayor and I have had a number of conversations over a lengthy period of time, and I would like to believe that that's going to bear some fruit and allow us the opportunity to put this franchise on great footing for generations to come." St. Petersburg City Council Chair Karl Nurse said that city and team lawyers "'have been trying to draft an agreement' for months that would allow the Rays to look at potential stadium sites in Tampa, as well as St. Petersburg." Nurse said that an agreement would "define ground rules for the search and reinforce the team's current obligation" to play at Tropicana Field through '27. He added that the city would be "protected ... because neither side could break the team's current contract to play at Tropicana Field 'unless both sides agree.'" Nurse said that he "didn't know any other details." Sternberg said the Rays want "to do what we think is necessary to at least see what's out there." His remarks are "noteworthy because they come only a month before a tight mayoral primary in which the three main candidates have staked out distinctive positions on the stadium issue." Sternberg said that pressure from league execs and other team owners "has 'been ratcheted up' on the Rays to improve their stadium situation, as they rank 29th in major league attendance despite stellar play" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 7/24).