Potential buyers for the Tampa Bay Rays have emerged, and some prospective owners have designs on moving the franchise out of Florida, The Athletic reported Sunday.
While owner Stuart Sternberg is involved in discussions regarding the funding of a new stadium in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area, at least one local businessman has stepped forward to try to buy the franchise. Other groups with relocation on the agenda also have expressed interest, per the report, even though Sternberg has not hung a "for sale" sign on the team.
The potential local buyer is Dan Doyle Jr., the CEO of DEX Imagine, a Tampa office technology company who has real estate development in his background, according to The Athletic. Other prospective buyers were not named.
The Rays long have wanted to move from Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, where their lease expires after the 2027 season. The leading contender for a new stadium is the grounds of Tropicana Field and its surrounding acreage, where a 30,000-seat park would be built alongside a mixed-use residential, retail and entertainment district. Review of other potential sites continues, however.
A $1.2 billion stadium plan has been drawn up, but it would require public financing if not enough private investment comes through. Whether the Rays situate a stadium in Tampa or St. Petersburg, the probability of using public money in either locale is unlikely, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis against using tax dollars for stadiums for pro teams.
The Rays did not comment to The Athletic.
Commissioner Rob Manfred has said that settling stadium issues for the Rays and Oakland Athletics is a priority. The A's are targeting a move to Las Vegas, but they face a hurdle when it comes to public financing.
Despite all the background noise, the Rays entered play Sunday with an MLB-best 34-13 record.
--Field Level Media