Manfred Calls For More Urgency From Tampa Government Officials On New Rays Ballpark
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred yesterday called for "urgency from Tampa Bay area government leaders to prioritize and move quicker on plans" for a new Rays ballpark, according to Marc Topkin of the TAMPA BAY TIMES. Though he stopped short of an ultimatum, Manfred got "closer to one, stating that pressure from owners tired of subsidizing the Rays through revenue sharing could soon force MLB to consider options such as moving the team." Manfred said, "There comes a point in time, particularly given the amount of money from both Major League Baseball and other clubs that flows into this market, that have you have to look at your alternatives if nothing gets done." He added, "I don't have a firm timetable for that. I will tell you it is a topic of discussion in the industry, the lack of progress in terms of moving forward with a first-class facility." The search process for a ballpark site seems "likely to lead the Rays to Hillsborough County, with a site near Ybor City seeming to be most likely, and would rule out St. Petersburg's plan to rebuild at the Trop location." Rays Owner Stuart Sternberg yesterday said that the Rays "were 'down to a very few' sites after starting with a list 'in the teens' with at least one Pinellas County option still in play in a project they started" in '07 (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 8/24). Manfred was in attendance yesterday for Blue Jays-Rays, where an announced crowd of 8,264 was the team's smallest at Tropicana Field in "more than 10 years, since 8,256 on Sept. 5, 2006" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 8/24). The AP's Dick Scanlon noted the matter of how a potential ballpark would be financed has been "tabled until a site is determined." But Sternberg "continued to express confidence in the Tampa Bay market." Sternberg: "I've had the opportunity to bail on it many times over the years. I won't say this is a slam dunk, it's certainly not. But I think we can do something that'll at least double our attendance" (AP, 8/23).