MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred met with Rays owner Stu Sternberg today.
Part of his duties as Commissioner of Major League Baseball are for Rob Manfred to “visit as many markets as possible.” After making a similar visit to Detroit yesterday, Manfred spoke to the media at Tropicana Field.
The biggest storyline surrounding the Rays over the last few years has been relocation. The Commissioner addressed those concerns, but perhaps his biggest message was to the fan base.
It’s no secret that the Rays struggle to fill the seats. In fact, five years in a row the club has finished last in the league in attendance.
“Given what an outstanding job they have done with their club, you’d hope that they’d be closer to the average in major league baseball, which is around 30,000 fans,” Manfred said of the attendance issues surrounding the club.
Looking at the current numbers, the commissioner is not wrong. The Rays would need to see a 100% increase in attendance just to be “league average”, according to Manfred.
He also spoke of the “road blocks” surrounding a new stadium in the Tampa Bay area.
“I don’t really see the process that way. I think that there is an ongoing process whereby the Rays are looking at various sites in Tampa Bay and trying to identify a really outstanding site. Which I think we all agree is important to the future success of this franchise,” he went on to say that he is “hopefully” that there is government support to continue hosting the club in Tampa Bay.
Stu Sternberg: “Very few” Stadium Sites Remain in Discussion
After Commissioner Manfred gave his thoughts on the new-stadium initiative, Rays’ owner Stuart Sternberg spoke about the progress.
“We’re down to very few,” Sternberg said when questioned on the number of site possibilities. “But we did start in the teens so I feel the process has been great and I feel very good about where we are right now and what we’re looking at.
Sternberg made reference to the decade worth of efforts that have gone on between the club and the Commissioner’s office.
“We tried to build a stadium in 2007/2008, you know 10 years later it’s not an ideal pace. When we started and got permission about a year-and-a-half ago, we could’ve moved quicker,” Sternberg said.
His defense of the slow pace is that it will be “generational” and “nobody wants it to be in a wrong place and not get done correctly.”
There is no timeline for a decision. The possibility remains, however, that Major League Baseball looks to relocate the club in another city. Of course that’s if the team cannot agree on location and construction of a new stadium. Montreal, Charlotte, and Las Vegas are on the list of possible relocation cities.