|The Rays are locked into Tropicana Field through 2027. (US Presswire)|
Rays owner Stuart Sternberg had some harsh words for Major League Baseball on Thursday, saying the league "no longer believes in the Tampa Bay area." MLB issued a statement regarding Sternberg's comments, which was passed along by Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times:
“The Commissioner has had conversations with Stuart Sternberg and is disappointed with the current situation in the Tampa Bay market.
The status quo is simply not sustainable. The Rays have been a model organization, averaging nearly 92 wins per year since 2008 and participating in the Postseason three times, including their inaugural World Series in 2008.
Their .565 winning percentage over the last five years is second among all American League Clubs and third in all of Major League Baseball. Last year, the 30 Major League Clubs averaged nearly 2.5 million in total attendance; the Rays, who finished with a 90-72 record, drew 1,559,681, which ranked last in the game.
The Club is an eager contributor to worthy causes in the Tampa and St. Petersburg communities and takes pride in meeting the social responsibilities that come with being a Major League franchise. We are hopeful that the market will respond in kind to a Club that has done a marvelous job on and off the field.”
The Rays are locked into Tropicana Field with a lease that runs through 2027, and as the statement says, they've struggled to draw fans despite their recent success. It's been speculated that the Marlins' recent fire sale less than a year after opening their new taxpayer-funded ballpark could hurt the Rays if they look to move across the bay from St. Petersburg into Tampa.
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