Baseball commissioner Bud Selig said attendance for Tampa Bay Rays home games is "bad" and he has no reason to be optimistic the problem will go away soon.
Selig comments, on the Sirus XM "Mad Dog Radio" show Thursday night, come 16 days after Rays owner Stuart Sternberg criticized attendance moments after the team was eliminated by Texas in the American League Division Series.
Sternberg said Major League Baseball might eventually "vaporize" the team. Selig did not discuss the potential for team contraction but said he is closely monitoring the situation.
"I, too, am concerned about their attendance," Selig said. "I track attendance every day. (Sternberg) knows it. I've talked to him a lot. They are a wonderful organization, produced a terrific team this year and finished last in the American League in attendance. I'll let you draw your own conclusion. That's bad."
The Rays defied expectations this season, winning 91 games and storming from nine games behind in September to overtake Boston to win the AL wild-card spot. Yet attendance this season was 1,529,188, 29th among MLB's 30 clubs.
Selig would not say whether the Rays' situation is a lost cause.
"I can't answer that yet but I'm usually an optimist, and I don't have any reason to be too optimistic," he said.
Sternberg has said playing in Tropicana Field is "untenable" and that the team wants to explore other possible sites in the Tampa Bay area. The Rays, however, have a contract with the city of St. Petersburg through 2027, leading to a standoff between the team and city officials.
"I like Stu Sternberg a lot, as you probably know," Selig said on the "Mad Dog Radio" show. "I have a great deal of respect for him. He's a very thoughtful, very interesting guy, done a great job there, done a brilliant job there."