The Tampa Bay Rays perennially rank among the bottom in Major League Baseball fan attendance, but commissioner Rob Manfred thinks the spotlight of the World Series could change that.
"My hope is the continued success of the Rays, because they really have had a phenomenal run, will help build their fan base, and the building of their fan base in the Tampa region will be an assistance in terms of them getting a (long-term stadium deal)," Manfred said Tuesday, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.
The Rays ranked 29th in attendance per game in 2019, finishing higher than only the Miami Marlins, according to Baseball-Reference. Fans weren't able to attend games in 2020 until the National League Championship Series due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
"I think that the Rays are an example of what's great about our game," Manfred added. "And what I mean by that is that there's lots of different ways to put together a roster that can be really, really effective. And I think that the fact that the Rays have done it with more limited resources than almost any other club is a phenomenal accomplishment. It's a credit to their ingenuity, their talent, their innovation. And now we should celebrate the Rays."
Rays ownership has explored alternatives to St. Petersburg's Tropicana Field, the only fixed-dome stadium remaining in MLB. The club had a proposal in July 2018 to relocate to Ybor City, a neighborhood of Tampa, but it wasn't viable.
The team has also mulled a two-stadium plan, playing half its home games in Florida and the other half in Montreal.
The current lease between the Rays and St. Petersburg expires at the end of the 2027 season.