Rays granted permission to look for new stadium sites

AP Photo/Reinhold Matay, File

Here’s a potentially significant development in the ongoing Rays’ stadium saga.

According to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, the St. Petersburg City Council approved an agreement Thursday — by a vote of 5-3 — to allow the Rays to look for new stadium locations outside the city and in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.

As Charlie Frago of the Tampa Bay Times notes, this was the third time that St. Petersburg mayor Rick Kriseman tried to get a deal done. The first one was shot down last December and the second ended in a deadlock a few months later.

The Rays’ stadium issues have been well-documented. Partially due to location, the team hasn’t drawn well despite some very successful teams. They are also stuck in a brutal lease at Tropicana Field through 2027. Rays owner Stuart Sternberg has long said that the current situation isn’t viable, leading to speculation about a possible sale or a move to Montreal. Naturally, Sternberg was happy coming out of today’s vote:

We’re still a long way from a new stadium, but today’s development is welcome news for Rays fans.

MLB just released the following statement:

“Major League Baseball appreciates this step forward taken by the St. Petersburg City Council and remains fully supportive of Stu Sternberg’s vision to bring this stadium process to conclusion. Mr. Sternberg’s patience and persistence throughout the franchise’s long-standing efforts have illustrated his commitment to fans of the region. We look forward to further progress in the weeks and months as the Rays strive to ensure the future of the franchise with a first-class ballpark in the region.”