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Selig Says MLB May Referee Rays' Stadium Dispute

AP Photo/Mike Groll

If the Tampa Bay Rays and the city of St. Petersburg can't reach an agreement in their ongoing talks about a new stadium, Major League Baseball may become the self-appointed mediator.

The Tampa Bay Times reports MLB Commissioner Bud Selig told owners in Cooperstown, N.Y., that he spoke this week to Rays' owner Stuart Sternberg, and he's so concerned over the impasse that he's "strongly considering" sending a league representative to intervene in the negotiations.

ESPN adds that Selig called the situation "very, very discouraging."

"Baseball needs a resolution to this problem," Selig said with Stuart Sternberg, principal owner of the Rays, in the room listening. "I find it a very, very troubling situation. We were optimistic this was moving in a very positive direction. Unfortunately, it's stalled." Selig said the situation was serious enough that he was giving "very strong consideration to assigning someone from MLB to intervene in this process, find out exactly what the hell is going on." "They've been a model organization, extraordinarily capable," Selig said. "They've done everything in their power to make their ballpark situation work. Years have ticked by now with no tangible progress."

Last week, St. Pete Mayor Bill Foster changed his long-held stance and said that he was open to the idea of the Rays seeking a site for a new stadium in Hillsborough County. However, it's not known if Foster will let the team out of a lease that keeps them tied to Tropicana Field until 2027.

Despite being in second place in the American League East, the Rays have the second worst attendance in baseball, averaging 18,330 fans a game. Only the Miami Marlins are worse.