The Tampa Bay Rays could be making their way out of Tropicana Field.
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St. Petersburg Council Approves Stadium Proposal
Thursday, Jan. 14
By a vote of 5-3, the St. Petersburg City Council agreed to allow the Rays to look for a new stadium outside of the city, according to the Tampa Tribune.
Third time was the charm for Mayor Rick Kriseman to get approval from the council for a move outside of St. Petersburg.
The Rays have finished at the bottom of MLB in attendance in four of the last five seasons. In 2015, Tampa Bay reeled in an average of 15,403 fans, which is 2,000 fewer than the next team, the Cleveland Indians. As Rays owner Stuart Sternberg noted, "remaining at Tropicana Field until its contract with the city expires in 2027 is financially unsustainable," per the Tampa Tribune.
The Tribune provided more details on the latest proposal:
It maintains a $24 million buyout, but also includes incentives that would pay the team half of potential development revenue on the 85-acre Tropicana site if it stays up to or beyond 2027. The Rays gets nothing if it leaves before the end of the lease.
The Rays also must show the city how they will evaluate stadium locations and give the city six months to make a case for the Tropicana Field location. And the proposal requires the team to pay half the cost to develop a master plan for the Tropicana site, up to $100,000, with or without a new stadium.
This is good news for the Rays, who have not been able to provide much fanfare despite being successful in the 2010s. Even when Tampa Bay made its lone World Series appearance in 2008, the Rays were 26th in attendance. One way to fix the problem is relocation, and this is one step in the right direction for Tampa Bay ownership.