The Rays’ quest for a new stadium has been an ongoing saga for years, but things took a small step forward yesterday, as Jeff Patterson of WFLA Channel 8 in Tampa reported that Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan announced a proposed site for a new stadium. The new Ybor City site would move the Rays from St. Petersburg to Tampa, hopefully leading to an increase in attendance thanks to a more desirable location and a newer facility.
“This is another important step in the site selection process, and we are grateful for the time and attention that went into making it a possibility,” said Rays president Brian Auld in an official statement on the proposal. “We look forward to getting to work evaluating this option, along with those in Pinellas County, including the Tropicana Field site, as a potential future home for Rays baseball in Tampa Bay for years to come.”
Certainly, the proposed site doesn’t guarantee that the Rays will break ground on a new Ybor City facility just yet. To the contrary, as Auld indicated in his comment, the Rays are only just scratching the surface of evaluating the newly proposed construction site, and they’ll likely do the same with other potential locations before ultimately determining a course of action. There’s also the matter of the Rays’ current lease at Tropicana Field, which reportedly runs through the 2027 season. Terminating that lease early will come with its own set of financial repercussions, including millions of dollars that’ll need to be paid out to the city of St. Petersburg as well as the forfeiture of a 50 percent share of development rights at the Tropicana Field site, as WFLA’s Mark Douglas writes.
The level of effort required to navigate such a large business endeavor, of course, is enormous, and with that in mind the Rays are set to shuffle their front office mix, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. President of baseball operations Matt Silverman is set to take on a broader role and serve as a co-president with Auld, per Topkin’s report, moving further away from the baseball operations mix and into a more overarching role with the front office. Silverman’s roots with the Rays are on the business side of the operation, and he’d previously been an integral part of the stadium talks before shifting to president of baseball operations in the wake of Andrew Friedman’s departure.
Silverman’s new title isn’t yet clear (nor are any other new titles that may emerge), but the change may not be as drastic as one would expect upon first glance. Despite keeping the “president of baseball ops” title, Silverman effectively handed day-to-day oversight of baseball operations over to Erik Neander and Chaim Bloom a year ago. Both vice presidents at the time, Neander was named the team’s new general manager, while Bloom was bumped to senior vice president of baseball operations.
As such, a shift of Silverman’s focus more to the business side of the equation doesn’t necessarily reflect a seismic shift in the team’s operational hierarchy, though it’s possible that he’ll have less overall say in baseball decision-making, with Neander and Bloom factoring even more heavily into those processes.