Report: Sternberg group to purchase 77 percent share

NEW YORK -- A New York investor has agreed to buy a majority share of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, The New York Times reported, a move that does not appear to change Vince Naimoli's role as the
team's controlling owner.

The group headed by Stuart Sternberg has agreed to purchase 77 percent of the club, the paper reported Thursday. But he is buying shares from the limited partners, who do not operate the team.

Naimoli, the managing general partner, is the individual who controls the Devil Rays.

The Devil Rays have finished in last place in the AL East for all six years of their existence, going 63-99 last season.

Their attendance has dropped each season and their payroll was the lowest in the majors in 2003.

Sternberg, 44, is a former executive of the options-trading firm of Spear, Leeds and Kellogg.