The 2019 season is the Rays 14th under the leadership of Principal Owner Stuart Sternberg, who assumed control of the franchise in October 2005. His arrival marked the beginning of one of baseball's best turnaround stories.
Today, the massive rebranding of the club entering the 2008 season marks a watershed for two distinct eras of Rays baseball. In the club's first decade of existence, the Devil Rays amassed the majors' worst record at 645-972 (.399) and finished in last place in nine of those 10 seasons. In the 11 years since, the Rays achieved a 945-838 (.530) record, the 6th-best record in baseball, and made four trips to the postseason. In eight of those 11 seasons, the Rays were in postseason contention until at least the final week of the season. The 2018 campaign was their sixth 90-win season since 2008, a claim that can be made by only three other clubs: the Red Sox (seven), Dodgers (seven) and Yankees (six).
While the on-field successes have been the envy of small- and large-market teams alike, there is even more to the Rays progress. Sternberg takes great pride in the organization's community service and commitment to its employees.
Under Sternberg's leadership, an employee-first culture defines the organization. It is fostered through myriad initiatives, including a wellness program; a staff-led service group, the Employee Community Outreach Team (ECOT); and generous leave policies. In May 2015, the organization was recognized by U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Thomas Perez as a "Leader on Leave" due to its groundbreaking paid maternity, parental, adoption and volunteerism benefits. As part of this commitment to community, all employees are urged to spend one paid day each month volunteering. To date, total volunteer hours for the organization exceed 37,000. In October 2017, Sternberg was honored with the Light of Sight Award by the Lion's Eye Institute, for "visionary thinking in the community."
Over the past two years, Sternberg and his partners invested more than $15 million of capital improvements to Tropicana Field. This offseason, they installed LED lights throughout the stadium, created the Left Field Ledge in the lower seating bowl and reconfigured the seating capacity with the closure of the upper deck. Fans can now enjoy a more intimate, entertaining and appealing ballpark experience, just one year after an overhaul of the food, beverage and retail space. Since 2005, the Rays total investment in upgrading Tropicana Field is more than $50 million.
Under his direction, the Rays have implemented a wide variety of fan-friendly policies. The organization was the first major league team to offer free parking (still in place today for fans who carpool on Sundays), is the only major professional sports team in Florida to allow fans to bring food into the ballpark and was consistently rated by ESPN one of the most affordable experiences in all of sports.
In January 2015, Sternberg was named to Major League Baseball's Executive Council, an eight-member panel that advises Commissioner Rob Manfred on major issues. He also serves as chairman of MLB's Diversity Oversight Committee, serves on the board of directors of the MLB Business and Media Board and on the board of advisors of Moffitt Cancer Center.
Prior to his ownership of the Rays, Sternberg spent 25 years in the financial securities industry, serving as a partner in Spear, Leeds & Kellogg and then as a partner and managing director at Goldman Sachs, from which he retired in 2002. Sternberg and his wife, Lisa, have four children. They reside in Rye, N.Y.