Buckhorn: Rays need 'other options' - FOX 13 News

Buckhorn: Rays need 'other options'

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

The future of the Tampa Bay Rays is anybody's guess. One thing we know: Baseball's commissioner is disappointed.

Bud Selig made some of his most bold comments yet about the team's attendance problems, saying, in part, "to see that they're number 29...it's inexcusable. Nobody can defend that."

Rays fans have almost the worst average attendance record among Major League Baseball's 30 teams. One of many burning questions is whether a new stadium in Tampa would finally fill the stands.

"If the business model doesn't work in St. Petersburg, if the fans are not attending, if the corporations are not buying tickets, if the stadium is outdated, then something needs to change and something will change, whether we like it or not," Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn told FOX 13 in response to Selig's comments.

St. Pete Mayor Bill Foster agrees with Selig that attendance is disappointing, but defends his city and its contract with the team.

"Nowhere in our agreement with the Rays has the city accepted responsibility for attendance at the Trop or the marketing of the baseball team," said Foster. "Per our agreement that runs through 2027, we build the house. We pay for the house and you play baseball."

Buckhorn says the city of Tampa can't get involved until contract issues are resolved.

"I've got to be careful because they have a contract, but by the same token, I think we need to start looking at other options," he said.

Rays owner Stu Sternberg declined to comment Wednesday on Commissioner Selig's remarks, but had this to say to FOX Sports on Sunday prior to Selig's comments.

"The discussion still continues on both sides of the bay. People want us to do well. They recognize that in order for this team to succeed long term and go at it (and be) something everybody can be proud of, we've got to figure this out," said Sternberg.

Figuring it out could very well involve the city of Tampa.

"I can't see the Rays continuing to play in that environment with that type of fan support," continued Buckhorn.

The bottom five baseball cities in average attendance are Houston, Seattle, Oakland, the Rays with 20,582 fans, then Cleveland.

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