Rays owner intends to explore new stadium sites

Rays owner intends to explore new stadium sites

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Stuart Sternberg plans to begin looking for a new stadium site, even without permission from the city of St. Petersburg. The Rays' principal owner revealed his intentions in a question-and-answer session with the Tampa Bay Times.

St. Petersburg city officials have denied Sternberg's request to explore sites for a new stadium. However, the city cannot block exploration for a site that could be used after 2027, when the team's contract to be tenants of Tropicana Field expires.

Sternberg pointed out that getting a new stadium built requires a lot of time. And while the Rays would like to get something going as soon as possible, he told the Times: "Right now, we are talking about trying to build something in the Tampa Bay region that would have us playing before 2028. But at some point, we have to start looking at 2028."

When asked if he will begin a regional search for the most optimal site without St. Petersburg's permission by 2022, Sternberg answered: "Absolutely. Before that, I haven't thought of a timetable, but five years is a minimum from the time you would start the process to when you would ring the bell."

Sternberg noted that he has not focused on looking at competing cities outside the Tampa Bay region for possible stadium sites.

"My commitment is to get something done in this region," Sternberg said.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.