After the St. Petersburg City Council shot down a proposal from the Tampa Bay Rays to scout out alternate spots in Florida in which to put a new state-of-the-art stadium by a 5-3 vote, the team may be headed for relocation.
Even though their lease runs through 2027 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, the Rays, who struggle to put fans in the seats in their current ballpark, could be moving cities within the next year. In fact, owner Stuart Sternberg said last week that he would sell the team if this was the outcome and that new ownership would almost surely move the team.
Now that the decision has actually been made, there is a very real chance a team could be relocated for the first time since the Montreal Expos became the Washington Nationals in 2005. There are plenty of intriguing locations for the young franchise and where they move could certainly depend on the new owner, if the team is, in fact, sold.
This comes after years of worries about the small crowds at Tropicana Field, where visiting fans often outnumber Rays fans. It was a huge reason that David Price was perceived to want out of Tampa Bay.
More details about the direction of the club will come out in the coming months, but as of now, it looks like they’re going to be on the move. There are plenty of cities that could house them and most prospective cities would provide a larger fan base than the St. Petersburg area does.
As they enter a new phase in their franchise on the field, it appears the Rays are also going to be going through quite the transition off the field.