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Tampa Bay Rays: Rob Manfred Continues Optimism About Stadium

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Jun 17, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; A general view of Tropicana Field where the Tampa Bay Rays play the San Francisco Giants . Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 17, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; A general view of Tropicana Field where the Tampa Bay Rays play the San Francisco Giants . Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /
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Usually, discussions about the Tampa Bay Rays stadium situation involve a great deal of negativity. Despite that, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred continues to be optimistic about baseball in the Tampa Bay/St. Petersburg area.

Typically, whenever the topic of a team relocating is brought up, the Tampa Bay Rays are considered the top option. They have been rumored to head almost everywhere a city is looking for a Major League franchise, even becoming the second incarnation of the Expos. Based on a lot of these articles, it seems inevitable that the Rays time in Tampa Bay is going to come to an abrupt end.

And yet, not everyone feels that way. Perhaps the strongest supporter of baseball succeeding in the Tampa Bay/St. Petersburg area is MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, who remains optimistic that baseball will thrice in the region. That optimism extends to the Rays getting a new stadium to replace Tropicana Field, their home since the birth of the franchise.

As Tropicana Field has long been considered a drawback for the Rays attempts to increase payroll, the idea that the future of the game in the area being tied to a new stadium makes sense. After all, the Rays have one of the lowest payrolls in baseball, while existing in a division with the Red Sox and Yankees. Although they were able to contend with home grown talent and smart trades, they will need to keep some of these players in order to continue to grow the game in the area.

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Now, the biggest key will be to locate a suitable site for a new stadium. Perhaps the biggest hurdle had been cleared when, in December 2015, the Rays were given permission by the city of St. Petersburg to search for locations outside city limits. Although that search has yet to produce any results, it does give the Rays a great deal more flexibility.

It is also good to hear someone involved in the game having optimism that the Rays will stay in town. Eventually, talks of relocation become a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Fans won’t support the team because they will move anyway, and the team won’t stay because the fans are not coming out to see the games.

Getting that new stadium at some point in the future would bode well for the future of the game in the region. Progress needs to start somewhere, and for the Rays, that involves having a better location for the fans to see the team play in person. The ratings have been there, indicating that they have support; those fans just need to get to the games.

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A new stadium could make that happen. And Rob Manfred is optimistic that the Tampa Bay Rays will get just what they need.

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