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Rays reopen ballpark site search; opening delayed until 2024

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Tampa Bay Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg speaks at the baseball winter meetings in Las Vegas today.

LAS VEGAS >> Rays owner Stuart Sternberg says the team’s planned ballpark for Tampa’s Ybor City can’t be finalized by this month’s deadline and he will reopen the site search, delaying any opening until at least 2024.

The team has played since its first season in 1998 at what is now called Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, where its lease ends in 2027. The St. Petersburg City Council voted in early 2016 to give the Rays through December 2018 to search throughout the Tampa Bay area, and the Rays unveiled a ballpark design for Ybor City in July.

Irwin Raij, a lawyer who represents the Tampa Sports Authority, wrote to Sternberg on Dec. 5 offering 50 percent of funding, not to exceed $475 million.

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred responded to Raij today with a letter saying the funding commitment, site control and timetable for completion were uncertain.

Sternberg says “while momentum and progress are real, we’re not close at all to a workable framework.” He says he remains committed to keeping the team in the area.

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