The Rays are closing in on a lucrative new TV deal with Fox that could be worth an average of around $82 million a year, according to a report by Sports Business Daily.
The new pact reportedly would run for 15 years, starting in 2019, with an increase from this season's $35 million to $50 million in the first year, and then escalate from there through 2033, averaging $82 million per year.
The deal could be completed before the March 29 opening of the season, per SBD, but "still has hurdles the two sides have to overcome."
The hefty increase in revenues would come at a time the Rays are seeking to get a new stadium built in Tampa, with a combination of team, private and public contributions. It also comes after a series of recent trades aimed at reducing payroll from their 2017 season-ending total of around $80-million.
Details of the Rays' current TV deal have been hard to ascertain, as the team and the Fox Sports Sun regional network have declined to even say when it expired. Even without the exact amount being known, it was considered one of the least lucrative in the majors.
Per the SBD report, the current deal expires this season, and will pay the Rays close to $35 million for this season.
Another complicating factor in closing the deal is that 21st Century Fox is in the process of selling off the Fox Sports regional sports networks to Disney as part of a $52.4-billion deal, which has to be approved by regulators.
Per SBD, there is a meeting scheduled for March between the Rays representatives and Fox officials to try to finalize the deal.
Rays PR officials said Monday the team has no comment on the TV deal at this time.