St.Petersburg (Fla.) City Council made this Thursday a vote giving the Rays legal clearance to study relocation of their stadium sites outside the city, for the first time. It provides the option either to remain in Tampa Bay or move to Montreal or Mexico. These two options provide solace to fans favouring their continuance in Tampa Bay, as well as to those vying for their relocation to new places as above. In this context, Major League Baseball (MLB) commissioner Manfred has favoured Mexico as a possible new place for shifting.
To begin with, Rays are concentrating searching around their close neighbourhoods such as Pinellas and Hillsborough. Next to Tropicana Field, is Tampa Bay a prospective, suitable League market for Rays to play? Rays owner Stuart Sternberg will find this easy to answer as this site will satisfy a section of fans. And, in the event of Rays landing on a suitable site for their stadiums in their vicinity (first option), private and public funds will be raised. If however they find no such place, then, Sternberg has the inevitable option to seek suitable places elsewhere.
Rays agreement with St. Petersberg is valid until 2027. But, Thursday’s mandate maintains that they cannot play elsewhere in the region until 2018. It’s OK, in so far as the team will generally get minimum a year’s time to study the market. If, breaking the agreement, Rays move into a new place for the 2018 season, they have to shell out $24 million to St. Petersburg.
Then another question arises. When $24 million is an acceptable compensation for shifting a baseball franchise across the bridge, what should be the compensation when it is shifted to a distant place like Mexico or Montreal (Canada)?
But, the St. Petersberg Mayor Rick Kriseman plans to ensure two things in the interest of the city, when Rays decide to leave: (1) the place is suitably redeveloped, and (2) the Rays give a fair amount to the exchequer while leaving the town.
Meanwhile, Sternberg, a pragmatic man as he is, prefers a place in the present region. He has begun house-hunting which is good news for all stakeholders.