The Rays’ stadium lease for Tropicana Field lasts another 13 seasons. While, at times, the club has talked about looking to get out of that lease beforehand and while the club and the city of St. Petersburg have, at times, negotiated about allowing the Rays to look elsewhere, that least remains pretty darn ironclad. As such, the club and the city’s comments about the matter have always been and should always been seen as statements in a grand negotiation than anything else.
The latest statements, from Rays owner Stuart Sternberg, suggest that the grand negotiation isn’t exactly going the way Rays fans who want to see the club leave Tropicana Field want it to:
We need a ton of time,” Sternberg said. “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.”
The excitment that surrounds a move or the building of a new stadium will come sooner, of course. As the interview in the linked article makes clear, the Rays setting up shop in a new park the first year they are able to do so would require at least five years of preparation and construction and the like. So Sternberg says, really, the team will begin a search for a new park before 2022.
Which still seems like an awfully long time from now.