ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Rays are certainly putting on a show this year — which is something that has reportedly caught the eye of some ownership groups.
Dan Doyle Jr., a local businessman who is the chief executive officer of the Tampa-based company DEX Imaging, is trying to buy the franchise, according to a report from The Athletic. Doyle Jr. also used to be the founder and managing partner of a holding company and real estate development in St. Petersburg.
The Athletic also says the Rays are drawing interest from other groups planning to relocate the club to a city that is a candidate for an MLB expansion side.
However, according to the Tampa Bay Times, current team owner Stuart Sternberg told the newspaper in a statement he plans to remain in charge for years to come.
“I expect we will build a ballpark in Tampa Bay that will keep the Rays here for generations to come,” Sternberg told the Times. “I also plan on remaining the Rays owner.”
Tampa Bay's lease at Tropicana Field will expire after the 2027 season and Sternberg will have to make decisions on the Rays' future soon.
On the bright side for Rays fans, St. Pete Mayor Ken Welch has already selected the Rays and the Hines development group over other bidders to build a new, 30,000-seat ballpark at the same location as Tropicana Field and develop the surrounding 86 acres.
Talks to keep the team in St. Pete seem to be more advanced than moving the franchise to Tampa as there has not been much indication that Mayor Jane Castor, the city and Hillsborough County have the public funds Sternberg seeks to help build a stadium.
During the 2023 Tampa City Council Runoff Election, candidates were asked about their views on bringing the Rays to the area, with all saying they are in favor of the move.
And back on May 9, Orlando Magic co-founder Pat Williams revealed plans for a potential MLB stadium in the city.
He says the stadium will be a $1.7 billion project and shared the next steps will be presenting their ideas to a group set up by the mayor where they will discuss funds and other business.
Whichever city ultimately gets the Rays, The Athletic says Florida officials would most likely not contribute to any sort of funding after Gov. Ron DeSantis opposed using taxpayer dollars to help build sports facilities for professional teams.
"A local buyer would face the same obstacles as Sternberg in trying to get a new ballpark built," the digital sports news outlet reports. "A buyer seeking to relocate the franchise probably would need to pay Sternberg a premium to persuade him to give up on the Tampa Bay area."
The Rays currently lead the AL East and are the best team in the league with a 35-14 record. Tampa Bay's next game is scheduled at 6:40 p.m. Tuesday, May 23 at Tropicana Field. For ticket information, click here.