Rays owner Stuart Sternberg wants to explore potential sites for a new ballpark throughout the Tampa Bay area, reiterating his belief that downtown St. Petersburg is not a viable location for a replacement for Tropicana Field.
Although he did not rule out the prospect of remaining in Pinellas County, the owner called Monday for regional talks that would include discussions about alternatives in neighboring Tampa and Hillsborough County.
“I know the facts are too persuasive to ignore. Baseball will not work long term in downtown St. Petersburg,” said Sternberg, who read a seven-minute statement but did not take questions during a new conference. “And I know that the Rays want to remain in Tampa Bay.”
The club’s lease at Tropicana Field runs through 2027. Sternberg has said repeatedly that the Rays will not be playing in the domed stadium on the edge of downtown when that agreement expires.
Despite owning the best record in baseball for most of this season, the Rays rank 23rd in the major leagues in home attendance, drawing an average of 22,301 per game.
Until Monday, Sternbeg had said little about the team’s desire for a new home since June 2008, when the Rays withdrew a proposal to have a public vote on a plan to build a $450 million downtown waterfront ballpark and announced formation of a coalition of political and business leaders to explore ways to broaden support for a new facility.
Four other areas, including downtown Tampa, have been identified as possible locations for a replacement for The Trop, which opened in 1990 – eight years before the expansion Rays played their first game.
BLUE JAYS SAY BYE TO ENCARNACION
The Toronto Blue Jays cut third baseman Edwin Encarnacion, less than a year after getting him from Cincinnati.
The Blue Jays designated Encarnacion for assignment, giving them 10 days to make a move with him. He hit .200 with nine home runs and 22 RBI this season. Toronto got Encarnacion last July in a trade that sent Scott Rolen to the Reds.
The Blue Jays also say pitcher Dustin McGowan will have surgery on his right shoulder today.
The Washington Nationals have sent left-hander John Lannan to Double-A Harrisburg, a demotion for their pitcher who started on opening day. Lannan was 2-5 with a 5.76 ERA in 14 starts. He also started the opener last year and led the team with nine wins. … The Cleveland Indians have optioned left-hander David Huff to Triple-A Columbus. Huff dropped to 2-9 on Saturday in a loss at Pittsburgh and has won only once in his past 11 starts. … The Yankees called up outfielder Colin Curtis from Triple-A Scranton and designated catcher Chad Moeller for assignment.