ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Despite a record-breaking 100-win regular season for the Tampa Bay Rays, the campaign ended this month with a disappointing ALDS loss in four games to the rival Boston Red Sox.

Now, as the on-field action has ended, the questions move away from the field this off-season and more specifically to what does the future hold for the Rays in the Tampa Bay area.

Three straight playoff appearances, American League East crowns and a World Series run in 2020 has not done much to swell crowds consistently at Tropicana Field.

On the latest episode of Spectrum Bay News 9's To The Point Already podcast, Rick Elmhorst and Roy DeJesus talk with Spectrum Sports 360’s Chris Torello, former Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Canadian columnist Scott Stinson about the future of the ballclub.

The team’s ownership (led by principal owner Stu Sternberg) has repeatedly said Tropicana Field in downtown St. Pete does not help the team generate the kind of revenue needed to increase payroll.

The ongoing issue of the Rays, a new ballpark and a possible location, be it in St. Pete or Tampa or even the team’s idea of a split-city plan involving Montreal, have been a revolving series of issues for several years.

“I don’t see a way either city (Bay area or Montreal) is like ‘here’s a bunch of money,’ “ said Torello. “I can’t think anyone is going to allow (Rays) ownership group to open their wallets and say ‘we don’t have any money’

“This feels like a big off-season for developments to occur.”

 Buckhorn said while he feels team ownership would like to see more fans, what really drives the team’s decision is the television contract. Buckhorn said he has his doubts about a “sister-city” arrangement.

So where does this leave the Rays and the surrounding communities as the clocks continues to tick on the 2027 Tropicana Field contract expiration?

Somewhere deep in a cauldron of hundreds of millions of dollars, legalese, infrastructure, urban development, government involvement, brand loyalty, community outreach and old fashioned politicking.

And that’s if things go right in St. Petersburg – or Tampa. Difficult, but doable, Buckhorn added.

Meanwhile in Montreal, Stinson said the community is supportive in general about baseball returning but skeptical of a split-city plan.

So in addition to Rays’ brass, led by owner Stu Sternberg, chatter is happening among St. Petersburg and Tampa city officials, county officials on both sides and property owners in Ybor City.

But there’s a lot of players in this complicated game.

Stay tuned Rays’ fans.


Spectrum Bay News 9 Anchor Rick Elmhorst sits down with the people that represent you, the people fighting for change and the people with fascinating stories to ask the hard questions.

To The Point Already will cover people, politics and issues from a Tampa Bay perspective every Wednesday.

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