BOSTON -- Stuart Sternberg, the Rays' principal owner, took a moment on Tuesday to address Commissioner Bud Selig's comments last week on the team's stadium and attendance issues at Tropicana Field.
Selig noted during the All-Star break in New York on Tuesday that the Rays' issues are "economically not tolerable" and "beyond disappointing."
"Bud was very pointed. I believe he's spoken in years past about the disappointment and concern," Sternberg said. "The verbiage within baseball, which I probably first brought public a bit in Spring Training a year and change ago -- not this past spring, the year before -- there was talk back then and it's been ratcheted up dramatically. There's pressure coming from other owners as well, who are not pleased with the situation and the money that they are sharing with us and the extent of it."
Selig noted that Tampa Bay's attendance issues are particularly problematic considering the club has won at least 90 games in four of the past five seasons. The Rays are 59-41 this year, second in the American League East entering Tuesday's action, but their average attendance falls below the league average of 30,226.
"Look at a club in the Major Leagues that's competitive and is averaging 18,000 people a game. That may have been OK in 1956. It's not OK today," Selig said. "Your fans want you to be competitive. Well, they ought to have the economic tools or the economic mechanisms to be competitive. You can't say they've run a poor franchise. They've run an extraordinary franchise. Every year they lose a lot of players, and they just keep on going.
"The question is what to do about it, and where and when."
Sternberg was asked if the recent dialogue has led to a timetable for when the issue needs to come to a head.
"There's no secret that the Mayor [of St. Petersburg] and I have had a number of conversations over a lengthy period of time," Sternberg said. "And I would like to believe that that is going to bear some fruit and put this franchise on great footing for years to come."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.