Baseball

Why Rays owner Stuart Sternberg isn’t worried about possible social distancing rules when stadiums reopen

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The Tampa Bay Rays are fresh off a World Series appearance in October and team owner Stuart Sternberg expects to get clarity on whether MLB will allow fans at ballparks next year.

Sternberg told the Tampa Bay Times in an interview published Wednesday that even if social distancing regulations are in place, it wouldn’t matter so much.

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“Most of our games are attended by less than 10,000 people, so we could probably for the most part run a normal stadium operation,” he told the newspaper.

In 2019, the Rays averaged about 14,552 fans per game and 14,259 fans per game in 2018.

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Sternberg admitted that a coronavirus pandemic-shortened season in 2020 caused a financial hit but he wouldn’t say how much.

“A number I wouldn’t have imagined to lose in a baseball season – more than if there had been a work stoppage and they didn’t play at all.” he told the Tampa Bay Times, adding that the number will likely be felt across the team’s payroll for years to come.

“I think it’s going to be three to five years to where we’re able to sort of get a clear understanding of the new normal.”

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The Rays are looking to build upon a successful 2020 campaign. The team won its first American League East division title since 2010.

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