Friday, May 16, 2008
The Rays are working very hard to get out of Tropicana Field as soon as possible. They have a waterfront stadium picked out, and are taking the other steps required in hopes of passing the referendum. However, if the referendum fails, don't expect the Rays to wait until 2027, when the lease on their current stadium runs out. Owner Stuart Sternberg said that the stadium has become obsolete among other stadiums and moving to a new one should motivate players and fans. It has worked in D.C. so far with the Nationals, and it should with the Rays, who appear on the brink of being a serious contender in the American League.
I spoke with one MLB player (who asked to remain anonymous) through email and he said that Tropicana Field is a "dry place." He went on to say that having a stadium that looks like other stadiums would motivate players and fans: "Everyone would be happy, and it would probably show in the standings." Staying in Tampa is their number one choice, but it is possible they would move to Charlotte to start their new franchise. I doubt a move to Las Vegas would happen because that would throw off the whole standings alignment, so Charlotte seems like the best fit.
Nothing will be solved for a couple seasons, but if it doesn't look good for the Rays, we could start hearing rumors that they are planning a move. Any change for the Rays would probably be for the better.