Attendance for the Rays is among the lowest in baseball—and stadium revenue has been in a slump for years.
The Tampa Bay Rays announced a deal for a new $1.3 billion stadium today that would be built near the current Tropicana Field site as part of the redevelopment of the 86-acre Historic Gas Plant District and open for the 2028 season.
The MLB team would contribute $700 million of the cost, with Rays managing partner Stuart Sternberg saying earlier in the month“…the Rays were talking to investors to contribute to the $600 million or more cost in exchange for shares in the team.”
The Rays have the worst stadium in baseball. Tropicana Field, which is owned by the city of St. Petersberg, has been in operation since 1990 and has housed the team since their arrival for the 1998 season. The Rays pulled in under $9 million from premium seating in 2022—in the bottom quartile in MLB—and their average home attendance was under 14,000, ahead of only the Florida Marlins and the Oakland A’s. The Rays have tried to put together a deal for a new stadium for over a decade. The best site for access by fans would be downtown Tampa, but that proposal fell apart a year ago.
Meanwhile, Sternberg is currently being sued by three of his limited partners, who claim he “has been secretly paying himself and several 501SG investors salaries from the partnership, leaving minority partners with large tax obligations while he ‘strategically’ withheld distributions, devalued membership interests and purchased shares from estates under manufactured pressure scenarios.”
Sternberg has denied any wrongdoing. “While we generally do not comment on active litigation matters, we feel compelled to publicly respond to the meritless and relentless campaign by these limited partners,” the team said. “They have deployed multiple baseless lawsuits premised on allegations they know are untrue in order to pressure the team and Stuart Sternberg to purchase their interests – which is a right they do not have.”
A trial judge had ruled that the case be settled in arbitration, which would have been a win for Sternberg. But earlier this week a Florida court of appeal reversed that decision, giving life to the lawsuit.
Regardless of how the lawsuit eventually plays out, wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall when Sternberg makes his pitch to new investors?