LAS VEGAS — Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg had some concerning comments Tuesday about a possible new baseball stadium in Ybor City.
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The mayors of both Tampa and St. Petersburg reacted to the comments Tuesday afternoon.
During Major League Baseball's Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, Sternberg was asked about the status of a new stadium and said, "we are not close" to a plan. When he was asked if the Ybor City option is dead, he replied, "This phase is."
He said the team is looking at all options.
Meanwhile, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a letter that he is "puzzled" that he is being brought into the discussions with only 20 days remaining in what has been a three-year negotiating period.
In the letter, he said: "It is very difficult for me to take any position at this time." He added "I am not sure of what assistance I can be at this juncture."
The Rays have a deadline of Dec. 31 to reach an agreement with Hillsborough County about the Ybor City site.
Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan said a lot of things led to plans not being firmly in place for the Ybor City stadium site by the upcoming deadline.
Some of it has to do with funding. Some of it has to do with when the design and cost estimates came through. And some of it has to do with government red tape.
Hagan says they still have site control of the proposed location, and he said the committee working on this will continue trying to find a way to make it work.
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said Tuesday’s developments were "no surprise."
"I think we've got to a point we’re we are at an impasse at best," he said. "This is no surprise. I had a conversation with one of the Rays executives two weeks ago where they said they were going to pull the plug on this."
The estimated cost of a new stadium would be north of $800 million. The county wants the Rays to put up half the money.
"I've always said right from Day 1 that I thought that the Tropicana Field site for the team, if they were really looking at what was in the best, long-term, sustainable interest for the team, that site I felt gave them the best chance of long-term success," said St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman.
The team has played at Tropicana Field since its expansion season of 1998. It is contractually obligated to Tropicana Field until 2027.