The Rays have a lease with the City of St. Petersburg until 2027, but don't expect the team to be there then.
Although the organization is bound by an agreement that prohibits them from negotiating or discussing other locations for a new stadium, owner Stuart Sternberg and upper management accepted an invitation to address the Hillsborough County Commission about the franchise's future in the area.
The relocation topic has been a hot one and one that is also very sensitive. Sternberg has repeatedly said that he has no plans on moving the team outside of the Tampa Bay area, and reiterated that sentiment again Thursday in front of the Board.
"We are very committed to the area," Sternberg said. "It's a 50- to 100-year thing. I want to keep doing this and I'd like for my kids to after me."
Doing this at Tropicana Field is another story.
The Rays expresssed to the Commisioners the frustration both the team and Major League Baseball has with the low attendance, despite having a quality product on the turf.
"Major League Baseball does not believe anymore in the Tampa Bay region," Sternberg said Thursday morning.
In post-session interviews, Sternberg said that the Tampa Bay Rays are a franchise of MLB and could dissolve all together.
Commission Chairman Ken Hagan does not want to see that happen, and believes the answer is getting the team out of the Trop.
"Tropicana Field is not a sustainable long-term option," Hagan said.
Sternberg acknowledged the dome which opened in 1990 is not a long-term home for the team, but was careful not to cross any possible legal boundaries stemming from the public discussion.
"We do think about the future," Sternberg said. "We have to take some time to plan a stadium. You don't just snap your fingers."
Through it all, Sternberg has remained steadfast that he does not lean in any location's direction - he just wants a new stadium.
Ken Rosenthal, one of the games' most respected baseball columinsts joined Ron Diaz Thursday morning and gave his own insight into the stadium saga.
"It's just that (Tropicana Field) is the wrong kind of ballpark in the wrong setting," Rosenthal said. "If they had a retractable roof ballpark in Tampa, and that's I know a fantasy especially in this economy right now, would that team be much more viable from an attendance standpoint? Yes, they would be."
Tomorrow, Hagan will join Ron Diaz at 11:00 to extend the conversation which affects all of Tampa Bay. Click here to hear the interview live.