Business leaders in Tampa weighed in on the Tampa Bay Rays’ stadium battle with the City of St. Petersburg Thursday, pledging to help try to keep the team in the area.
Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce Chairman Chuck Sykes told a crowd of hundreds of the group’s members that the chamber would study next year how to finance a new stadium.
Last summer, Rays owner Stuart Sternberg held a press conference saying his team could not survive financially playing in Tropicana Field, located in downtown St. Petersburg. Since then, the team and St. Petersburg officials have been at odds, with city officials saying a lease between the two that mandates the Rays play in Tropicana until 2027 would be enforced.
Sternberg further angered St. Petersburg officials by saying a search for a new stadium site should include the entire Tampa Bay area, including Tampa and Hillsborough County.
Sykes — who is also president and CEO of Sykes Enterprises, one of the largest businesses in the Tampa Bay area — said the chamber’s future plans should not be seen as an effort to bring the team to Tampa, only to keep the squad in the area. Sykes also spoke of the impasse between St. Petersburg officials and the Rays.
“We don’t see the dialogue that needs to be going on,” Sykes told the crowd.