The 2021 season is the 16th under the leadership of Principal Owner Stuart Sternberg, who assumed control of the franchise in October 2005. Today, the massive rebranding of the club entering 2008 marks a watershed for two distinct eras of Rays baseball.
In the 13 seasons since then, the Rays own the 5th-best record in baseball at 1,081-924 (.539) and have made six trips to the postseason, including three AL East division titles (2020, 2010, 2008) and two World Series appearances (2020, 2008). During this span, only three clubs (Dodgers, Yankees, Cardinals) have reached the postseason more often than the Rays, and only two (Dodgers, Giants) have competed in more World Series. This success comes after the Devil Rays amassed the majors’ worst record at 645-972 (.399) over the club’s first decade of existence.
“Sternberg is the connective tissue running through the two [World Series] teams,” wrote Richard Justice on MLB.com. “His taking over the Rays in 2005 began one of the great turnarounds in baseball history, from one of the least successful franchises to one of the best.”
Sternberg has built an organization that encourages experimentation and nurtures new ideas. In 2008 and again in 2019, Baseball America named the Rays its MLB Organization of the Year. This environment has cultivated some of the top leadership talent across the game, including numerous managers and general managers for both small- and large-market teams.
“You want to know why they have so many innovative strategies?” wrote Tampa Bay Times columnist John Romano. “Because owner Stu Sternberg is not constantly looking over their shoulders, tallying up every success and failure.”
The ingenuity extends to other areas of the business, as well. In June 2019, Sternberg and the Rays introduced an innovative plan for the team to build new home ballparks in both Tampa Bay and Montreal and divide its home games across both geographies.
Sternberg takes great pride in the organization’s community service and commitment to its employees. Under his leadership, an employee-first culture defines the organization. It is fostered through myriad initiatives, including a wellness program and a staff-led service group, the Employee Community Outreach Team (ECOT). 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 38,500.
Over the past four years, Sternberg and his partners have invested more than $20 million of capital improvements to Tropicana Field—including new LED lights throughout the stadium; an overhauled food, beverage and retail space; and the Left Field Ledge. 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 convert its ballpark to a cash-free facility, reducing wait times by up to 50 percent at concession and retail locations. The Rays commitment to technology and innovation has continued in recent years, and accelerated in the wake of COVID-19, with investment in new technologies and building systems to support mobile ticketing, mobile payments and promote a contactless and frictionless fan journey. The Rays also have been rated by ESPN as one of the most affordable experiences in all of sports.
Sternberg serves as chairman of MLB’s Strategic Planning Committee. He is also a member of both MLB’s Executive Council and its Diversity and Inclusion Board. Additionally, Sternberg is a member of 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 2003. Sternberg and his wife, Lisa, have four children. He resides in St. Petersburg.