Originally Posted by Lip Man 1
Unless the state of Florida is willing to allow them to break a long term lease and go somewhere else, the Rays aren't going anyplace, regardless of what they draw.
And by all accounts the state is not willing to do this.
Originally Posted by TheVulture
The lease is actually with the city of St Petersburg, but from what I've read you are otherwise absolutely correct.
The bonds to pay off the dome expire in 2016 so that is more of a magic date in the minds of the Rays ownership than the actual lease through 2027. If the Rays were to leave Tropicana (or Tampa area) in 2017, at least they would not leave St. Petersburg with a bill, rather just a big, ugly balldome to sell, lease or re-develop as they please. Commercial lease deals are broken and re-negotiated on a regular basis based on legal outclause interpretation, market conditions, etc.
MLB's first priority is its "brand" and if the Tampa Bay area can't support the MLB brand with a ballpark either in St. Petersburg or Tampa, I'm sure MLB will step in to do whatever it takes to support the integrity of the league. The other owners aren't going to sit back with their revenue sharing model and watch the Rays ownership fail especially after they have proven they can produce a strong, winning franchise. For example, the Yankees ownership has been the biggest local proponent outside of the Rays ownership to support a new ballpark in Tampa Bay.
What hurts the Tampa Bay market for both MLB and NFL is that even with winning seasons/on field products, attendance is still an issue.