One of the ongoing narratives in baseball is that, for the Tampa Bay Rays to have sustained success, they will need to relocate outside of the Tampa Bay area. Rob Manfred continues to disagree with that assessment.
Over the years, the Tampa Bay area has gained the reputation as being a baseball wasteland. Casual fans see the empty seats at Tropicana Field, and automatically assume that the Tampa Bay Rays do not have any support. Add in their payroll limitations, and one can see why those outside of the region would suspect that the Rays are hindered by the area.
In a way, this assessment is correct, at least in the Rays current situation. Tropicana Field has been outdated since even before the Rays came into existence, a dinosaur from another time. Add in the difficulties involved in getting to the stadium, due to its rather inconvenient location, and the Rays are in a difficult situation.
However, that does not mean that baseball in the Tampa Bay-St. Petersburg area cannot work. In fact, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred still has hopes for baseball to be successful in the region, saying that be believes that Tampa Bay is a viable major league market. At least, that is the case for now.
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Of course, Manfred belives that, for baseball to be viable in Tampa Bay, the Rays need a new stadium. This is something that has seen some progress after years of nothingness, with the franchise looking for possible locations to build. The hope, obviously, is that the new stadium will be able to allow the Rays to have much more financial flexibility and let them keep some of their home grown stars.
Yet, even with that optimism, Manfred is not ruling out relocation. That would be a last resort, something that would take place years down the road. Every other avenue would be explored first, especially as Manfred is seemingly adamant about proving that baseball can succeed in the market.
Rob Manfred is optimistic that the Tampa Bay Rays will remain viable where they are. But if a new stadium cannot come to fruition…