ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Rays owner Stuart Sternberg wants to explore potential sites for a new ballpark throughout the Tampa Bay area, saying it's essential to the team's long-term success.

Sternberg reiterated his belief that downtown St. Petersburg, where Tropicana Field is situated, is not an optimal location for a stadium.

He did not rule out remaining in Pinellas County, but called Monday for regional talks that would include discussions about possible sites in neighboring Tampa and Hillsborough County.

The club's lease at Tropicana Field runs through 2027. Sternberg has said repeatedly that the Rays will not be playing in the domed stadium when that agreement expires.