FS: What would it take to break the lease?
SS: The specifics of it, I can’t and wouldn’t get into. There’s no real breaking of the lease. It’s there. It’s a lease. We’re there. We have to play our games there until 2027. After that, we don’t have to play our games there. If I walked in and said, ‘Here’s $12 billion. Can you let us out of the lease?’ I think they’ll probably say OK. If I say, ‘Here’s a dollar. I want to leave in five years,’ they’re probably not going to say OK.
By the same token, when you leave, you have to have a place to go. It’s not as easy as moving into a house five miles away. It’s complex. The next house we build has to be a self-sustaining home.
FS: What are the realistic chances the Rays leave the Tampa Bay area?
SS: It’s very unrealistic. If it’s up to me, it’s very unrealistic. There’s certainly been a lot of discussion, from others within baseball, that we should get the hell out of there. It’s not in my makeup to do that. I am committed to doing whatever I can, until I can no longer do it, to make it work there.
FS: Is it safe to say that, eventually, there has to be a new stadium in Tampa Bay or you’ll sell the club?
SS: Eventually, yeah. I would suppose so. But if that happens, by doing that, I could be ensuring baseball is there anyhow. The other side is, in fairness, we receive a lot of revenue-sharing money each year.
It should be expected from other owners, if (we) put a winning product on the field, get to the playoffs and World Series, (they) shouldn’t have to share much money with (us) for the next couple years.
I think ours is the only franchise — maybe I’m mistaken — that has been to the World Series (recently) and we still had to take a lot of money in revenue sharing. The fact that all the other owners are consistently writing checks to us and see no way to get out of it, some of this will be their desires. … The decision can be taken out of my hands at some point. If you haven’t made any progress, and it’s not working where you are, (MLB could say), ‘We’re going to duke it out. This team is going to be somewhere else, whether it’s 10 miles away or 510 miles away.’
FS: Do you think Major League Baseball could work again in Montreal?
SS: Yes. I know it can.
SS: My gut. I was at Olympic Stadium the day after they got Bartolo Colon. I’ve been convinced — this is before I bought the (Rays) — that it would be an incredible place for baseball. That doesn’t mean my baseball team, but a baseball team.
FS: Do you think there will come a day when Montreal has a team again?
SS: In the next five years, no. In the next 20, yes.