ST. PETERSBURG -- Michael Kalt, the Rays' lead executive in their search for a new ballpark in the Tampa Bay area, is leaving the team to pursue a new opportunity in New York, the club announced Friday morning.
Kalt, the Rays' senior vice president of development and business affairs, will depart the team to lead a New York-based private investment office established by several Rays general partners, according to a club statement.
"It's a very difficult decision to leave an organization as special as the Rays," Kalt said. "I'm extremely proud to have been a part of our dramatic turnaround and very excited for the opportunities ahead."
Kalt joined the Rays in March 2006, and he has led a number of important and well-known business initiatives, including the design and construction of Tampa Bay's Spring Training home in Port Charlotte, Fla., and the recent renovations of Tropicana Field. Last month, Kalt helped introduce the "Rays 360" project, a major renovation that includes new walkways in the outfield and opens up what had been the Batter's Eye Restaurant in center field for an open-air meeting spot.
Kalt also led the creation of the Rays Card, an industry-leading digital ticketing and stored value platform. But Kalt is perhaps best known for his work as the point person in the club's efforts to build a new ballpark.
"Michael's contributions and leadership during the past eight years have been invaluable to the growth of the Rays organization," principal owner Stu Sternberg said in a statement. "He has influenced and bettered nearly every aspect of our business. His presence and guidance will be sorely missed."
Kalt told the Tampa Bay Times that his 14-month-old son was a big factor in his decision, as he and his wife can now move closer to their families in the New York area.
"This is a really good opportunity in New York, where we want to raise our son because of family," Kalt told the Times. "This is also a good time to make a move and be the least disruptive to the club."
Before joining the Rays, Kalt spent three years with former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, serving as a senior advisor for economic development and overseeing negotiations to construct two new Major League Baseball stadiums, the first new major professional sports facilities built in New York in almost 40 years.