The Tampa Bay Rays stadium issue took yet another turn on Tuesday afternoon as Rays owner Stuart Sternberg met with the Pinellas County Commission. Days after St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster echoed his personal feelings on 620am WDAE, Sternberg gave his gave his assessment of what he believes is the future of the Rays in their current location.
“I want to be here. I want our franchise to be here,” said Sternberg.
Sternberg acknowledged that the team has focuses on attendance issues on a yearly basis, and does not take lightly the fans that do come out to all 81 home games per season. However, the Rays found themselves finishing last in attendance in 2012 (19,255 average) despite winning 90 games.
The Rays have said they can’t be a successful franchise at Tropicana Field despite their recent success including a trip to the World Series in 2008. In fact Sternberg went on to say that the Rays have only 300 season tickets sold in the city of St. Petersburg.
The hearing in Pinellas County comes days after the Rays met with the Hillsborough County Commission last week. Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig put out a statement last week stating that he had conversations with Sternberg and is disappointed with the current situation in the Tampa Bay market.
"The status quo is simply not sustainable," the release stated. "The Rays have been a model organization, averaging nearly 92 wins per year since 2008 and participating in the postseason three times, including their inaugural World Series in 2008. Their .565 winning percentage over the last five years is second among all American League clubs and third in all of Major League Baseball.
"Last year, the 30 major league clubs averaged nearly 2.5 million in total attendance; the Rays, who finished with a 90-72 record, drew 1,559,681, which ranked last in the game.
"We are hopeful that the market will respond in kind to a club that has done a marvelous job on and off the field."