TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa and Hillsborough County could be "back in the game" to move the Tampa Bay Rays across the bay in 2028.


Government leaders, including Mayor Jane Castor and County Commissioner Ken Hagan, met with Rays owner Stu Sternberg to talk about the team's future.

Work is being done to come up with an agreement that would move the team to Tampa or Hillsborough County and split the season with Montreal.

"I'm extremely encouraged by the dialogue," Hagan said. "The discussion centered around a smaller ball park post-2027 when the lease agreement with St. Petersburg runs out and the split city concept with Montreal."

Hagan said Ybor City remains high on the list of potential sites.

Specific numbers and funding options haven't been discussed yet and no matter what it costs, it won't be easy.

"It is essentially a three-legged stool, if you will, in that an agreement has to be reached with Tampa and Hillsborough County and also with Montreal and then for Major League Baseball to bless and approve the agreement," Hagan said.

The group has been tasked with coming up with an agreement by the end of the year.

"I'm encouraged by the sense of urgency that the team showed today and I'm cautiously optimistic that we can come up with an agreement," said Hagan.

Mayor Castor's office issued a statement that said: "I continue to be optimistic about the Rays. I look forward to continued collaboration and conversations with the Rays and the County on ways we can move forward to keep baseball, this beloved pastime, in the region."

The Rays released a statement after the meeting, as well: