Mayor Kriseman on Losing the Tampa Bay Rays, “Would we be disappointed to lose the team? Absolutely. Will we and can we survive without the team? Absolutely.”
Stu Sternberg, the principal owner of the Rays, has been in negotiations with St. Petersburg’s Mayor, Rick Kriseman about the potential “shared season” concept. The idea of the shared season would entail the Tampa Bay Rays playing half of their home games in Montreal.
December 4th, Mayor Kriseman announced he had put an end to those talks after months of negotiations. The Mayor will hold the Rays to their lease, which keeps the Rays at Tropicana field full-time until the end of 2027.
The Rays had the second-lowest attendance numbers despite winning 96 games and securing a playoff berth in 2019.
Rays leaders ended talks of re-locating across the bay to Hillsborough County, despite being offered an early-out from their lease at Tropicana Field.
The Mayor appears steadfast in his commitment to getting a new stadium built for the Rays, as long as the Rays reciprocate that commitment to the city.
Here’s what the mayor had to say, following the announcement.
"If you look to the past, what you see is attendance that has lagged. If you look to the future, you see attendance that is very different. Our city is exploding. It’s growing. We have new hotels, apartments and office space. This is a place a team should want to be,” Kriseman added. “Would we be disappointed to lose the team? Absolutely. Will we and can we survive without the team? Absolutely.”"
The Mayor contends that the Tampa/St. Pete area is growing. He believes that attendance will catch up.
In April, the Tampa Bay Times noted,
"“last year, Tampa Bay grew by more people than can fit into Tropicana Field, making the region one of the fastest growing in the nation, U.S. Census data shows.”"
If only we could get some of those people to go to a Rays’ game!
The bottom line is, we showed up during the playoffs. When there is a good product on the field, the fans want to show up, even to the Trop. Should the city continue to develop the area and make it more patron-friendly, people might start adding Rays’ games to the list of fun things to do in St. Pete.
If the Rays would commit to securing more players long-term and understand what it means for a player to be a fan-favorite, it is difficult for fans to latch on to a player when there’s essentially a new team of players every season.
I noted in a previous article, about 25% of baseball fans in Florida say their favorite team is either the Yankees or the Red Sox. I understand we have a lot of transplants in the Tampa area, I am a transplant as well.
I found room in my heart for the Rays, and I believe you can too. This is about more than being a Yankees fan, a Red Sox fan, or a Braves fan (in my case), this is about being a fan of the game of baseball.
If you like to see your Yankees or Red Sox when they come to town to play the Rays in the future, you need to support our local team now…by the way, they’re pretty good at baseball, if you like baseball.