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Sternberg discusses new stadium talks, attendance

ST. PETERSBURG -- Rays principal owner Stu Sternberg held court before Monday afternoon's season opener at Tropicana Field and touched on several topics.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman was to be in attendance, and Sternberg noted that he hoped to see him before adding that any progress on plans for a new stadium wasn't going to come to fruition with one meeting.

"It's going to happen with right minds coming together and trying to figure out what's best for the citizens of St. Petersburg and of Tampa Bay and Florida in general," Sternberg said. "... I enjoy speaking with him and I know we'll speak and I do think things will happen. Where it leads, I don't know.

"We've been at this now seven years. A few different mayors. I feel most confident in what the Mayor has done so far and I think the city is poised for some incredible things, both on the Council and the Mayor's side, and I'd like to be a part of that. I think we can help move things along dramatically in the city."

As for interest in the team, Sternberg said he prefers to focus "on the people who are here."

"Not the ones who are not here," Sternberg said. "And I focus on the people who are engaged on the television, on the radio, on the Internet, reading the papers, reading the blogs, the TV side of it. The ratings are nothing to scoff at. ... And it's something that continues to give us the belief that Major League Baseball can thrive in the region."

The Rays finished the 2013 season with a total attendance of 1,510,300, an average of 18,646 per game.

"The key is to just have more people," Sternberg said. "We're getting them in. Any way you slice it up, a million and a half, a million six, a million eight. That's a lot of human beings coming in for over 81 games.

"It's not enough. It's still a lot of people. And we love to put on a great show, and a great product, make investments for the people who are showing up here and the same for the people who are watching us on TV and investing what has comes down to hundreds of millions of hours a year in the region who follow our product."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for
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