Renovation of Trop not a possibility

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- A private group examining stadium options for the Tampa Bay Rays doesn't believe renovating Tropicana Field is a viable alternative to building a new home for the AL champions.

A subcommittee of A Baseball Community -- the coalition of political and business leaders created last summer to explore ways to broaden support for a new ballpark -- said it would be too costly to transform The Trop into a facility with the amenities of newer major league stadiums.

The preliminary conclusion was presented during a coalition meeting Monday.

The advisory group formed by St. Petersburg mayor Rick Baker is exploring potential sites for a new stadium, as well as discussing ways to bolster attendance and strengthen corporate backing for the franchise.

A little more than a year ago, the Rays withdrew a proposal to have a public vote on a plan to build a $450 million waterfront ballpark in St. Petersburg.

The 34,000-seat facility would have featured a retractable, sail-like covering and been built on the downtown site of Al Lang Field, where spring training games were played for decades.

Four other areas, including downtown Tampa, have been identified as possible locations for a ballpark that Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg has said is essential to ensure long-term success for the franchise.

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig, in St. Louis for Tuesday night's All-Star Game, reiterated his stance that a replacement for Tropicana Field is needed.

"They've got a wonderful young club. ... And people have done their job very, very well," Selig said. "But for them to continue to remain competitive, they need to produce the kind of revenue they have to."

The commissioner added it's a difficult time to be talking about new stadiums because of the economy.

"But they're going to have to -- they need to do everything they can to continue to increase their revenue there. Look, they're in the American League East, I don't have to say any more," Selig said.

"Whether a new stadium is feasible or not, only Stu can determine. I have a lot of faith in him. He's very smart. All of them. He's put together a terrific team there, and the results on the field are remarkable."