MLB commissioner Bud Selig said Thursday that baseball may intervene to force action on "stalled" talks to build a new stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays.
According to Barry Bloom of MLB.com, Selig told reporters at the quarterly Owners Meetings in Cooperstown, N.Y., he is considering appointing someone from his office to get involved in the negotiations. He said Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg told him earlier in the week the situation was "very discouraging."
"We were optimistic that this was moving in a very positive direction," Selig said, according to MLB.com. "Unfortunately, we're stalled. It's serious enough that in the last 48 hours, I've given very strong consideration to assigning someone from MLB to get involved in this process and find out what's going on.
"They've been a model organization, extraordinarily capable. Under this ownership, they've done everything in their power to make their ballpark situation work. They have a very, very, very competitive club. Years have ticked by with no progress to resolve the situation. And frankly — and this is coming directly from me — baseball needs a resolution to this problem."
According to MLB.com, Sternberg told reporters he had hoped to have an agreement in place with St. Petersburg, Fla., by the All-Star break to start looking for sites in the area at which to build a new ballpark. Meanwhile, he said St. Petersburg, Fla., officials are threatening to sue any neighboring city that even discusses the possibility of building a new ballpark with the Rays.
"St. Petersburg has threatened to talk to anybody who talks to us. It's a free country — we can do whatever we want to do — but I guess it becomes a potential legal issue for anybody who wants to talk to us," Sternberg said.The Rays have played in the unattractive, obstacle-prone Tropicana Field since their inception in 1998. They currently occupy the first American League Wild Card slot, but they are last in the AL in attendance. They have averaged just 18,330 fans per game through their first 60 home games.