The Rays are poised to make an announcement tomorrow concerning a deal to assemble a brand new stadium in St. Petersburg, in keeping with Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Occasions.
Not the entire particulars have been revealed, however Topkin relays that the brand new stadium might be constructed close to Tropicana Subject as a part of a redevelopment of the Historic Gasoline Plant District web site. It’s anticipated to have a set dome roof, seat round 30,000 individuals and open for the 2028 season, simply after the membership’s lease on the Trop expires after 2027. It’s believed to value round $1.2 billion, with the precise breakdown unclear right now. Proprietor Stuart Sternberg beforehand acknowledged that he anticipated the membership to pay “half or extra,” with different contributions coming from St. Petersburg, Pinellas County and traders who would contribute in trade for shares of the membership.
The long run dwelling of the Rays has been an ongoing difficulty for years now, because of varied issues with Tropicana Subject. The membership has thought of transferring from St. Petersburg to Tampa and likewise toyed with a extra inventive plan that concerned splitting the house video games with Montreal, although the latter plan was finally nixed by Main League Baseball.
The transfer to Tampa was seen as fascinating since one of many points with the Trop is the St. Petersburg location is much less accessible. However makes an attempt to safe financing for a stadium in Tampa by no means gained a lot traction, which is what led to the Montreal plan. As soon as that path was lower off and the monetary state of affairs in Tampa didn’t change, the membership pivoted again to St. Petersburg.
In December of final 12 months, the Rays issued a press launch about their proposed stadium, which was stated to characteristic “greater than 5,700 multifamily items, 1.4 million sq. toes of workplace, 300,000 sq. toes of retail, 700 lodge rooms, 600 senior dwelling residences, a 2,500 particular person leisure venue, and varied civic makes use of.” It went on to say that it might embody “greater than 850 inexpensive and workforce housing items on-site” in addition to different options.
This plan acquired the approval of St. Petersburg mayor Ken Welch in January, although with nonetheless many steps to return. The membership needed to finalize the financing with the town, the county and new traders. Although these particulars nonetheless aren’t publicly identified, it appears they’ve been resolved sufficient that the membership will be capable of make an announcement of a deal tomorrow.
Staying in St. Petersburg received’t resolve the situation points that the Trop had, however the brand new facility will hopefully be an improve in different methods. The Trop has been seen by many across the business as outdated and unsightly by way of fan expertise. There have been additionally awkward on-field points, with the varied catwalks within the roof interfering with balls in play and resulting in advanced floor guidelines distinctive to that area.
It’s unclear what the longer term holds for the Trop, however its run as the house of the Rays will seemingly come to an finish after 30 years, having been the membership’s solely ballpark since their first season in 1998. It was really opened in 1990, with the world hoping to draw an growth main league baseball franchise for 1993, however they misplaced out to Denver and Miami. Different sports activities franchises used the power at occasions, together with the Tampa Bay Storm of the Enviornment Soccer League and the Tampa Bay Lightning of the Nationwide Hockey League, earlier than the world was lastly awarded an growth MLB franchise.
Followers of the Rays can now sit up for a brand new period of the membership’s historical past, hopeful that the brand new facility might be a major improve over the Trop, although the situation issues will persist. This information can even be vital past simply its impression on that membership, because the potential for future growth now appears extra viable than ever earlier than.
There hasn’t been a brand new growth franchise in Main League Baseball because the Rays and Diamondbacks joined the league in 1998. The difficulty has come up lately, with varied teams hoping to get new golf equipment into locations like Nashville, Portland or Salt Lake Metropolis. Regardless of that sturdy curiosity, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has repeatedly acknowledged that the Athletics and Rays wanted to resolve their respective stadium conditions earlier than growth may very well be thought of.
The A’s appear destined to relocate to Las Vegas, with homeowners set to vote on their proposed plan in November. Now that the Rays appear to have a brand new stadium plan in place, it appears the desk is about for growth discussions to choose up in earnest. A timeline for future growth isn’t clear, however particulars ought to proceed to emerge as time goes on. New franchises will result in further intrigue across the league, with followers in a position to sit up for an growth draft. For the homeowners, it’ll even be fascinating from a monetary standpoint as the brand new golf equipment must pay to hitch the league, with that cash dispersed among the many present groups. The Rays and Diamondbacks every paid $130MM again in 1998 nevertheless it has been recommended that the following growth membership may need to pay one thing nearer to $2 billion, given the rise of franchise valuation within the interim.