ST. PETERSBURG — Negotiations continued Wednesday between Major League Baseball players and owners as they try to end the lockout that's delayed the start of spring training.
Reaching a labor agreement and ending the owner's lockout would greenlight a return to the field, but that would just be the first step in bringing baseball all the way back.
"You all of a sudden have a lot of free agents that are still out there that need to sign," said Rays broadcaster and former MLB pitcher Brian Anderson. "Trades that need to be made. Foreign-born players that need to get their visas approved and need to get them into the United States. Then get them to camp and get everybody on the same page. That takes time."
MLB brass and the players agree that it takes about four weeks of spring training for teams to be ready for a full schedule. February 28th is the current deadline for an agreement if the league wants to hit its scheduled Opening Day of March 31st.
As players submit proposals to end the owner's lockout, there's still plenty of activity happening at the local level in Tampa.
Rays owner Stu Sternberg proposed a Sister City plan, that would've seen Tampa Bay split home games between Tropicana Field and Montreal. Major League Baseball nixed the idea, but Sternberg doesn't think the concept itself is dead.
"Personally, I think partial seasons are going to be the wave of the future in professional sports," he said at a January 20th press conference. "And I think it’s something that probably would’ve served this community and other communities well. That doesn’t rule out the option of doing a full season here as well."
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The discussion surrounding a new Rays stadium is ongoing. Anderson thinks the best location for the team's new home would be somewhere in Tampa-proper. Moving north from St. Petersburg would allow the team to draw from a larger population zone.
"When you look at where Tropicana Field is located, and you look at that 30-mile radius around it, that’s a lot of water. A lot of water," Anderson added. "And you’re not able to draw much from that. You get it on the other side, where there’s a little bit more to draw from, and you have an opportunity to do very, very well."