The Rays have provided Hillsborough County officials with a list of specifications for their proposed new stadium, write Charlie Frago and Richard Danielson of the Tampa Bay Times (see also, Christopher O’Donnell of the Tampa Tribune). The Rays recently won a concession from the St. Petersburg government that will allow them to survey the area for a new site. A one page document details the team’s wishlist ranging from development options, site size, accessibility, and financial considerations.
The club’s lease agreement for their current home park, Tropicana Field, runs through 2027. The Rays have spent most of their tenure in St. Petersburg attempting to gain clearance for a new site in the St. Pete-Tampa Bay area. Their time at the Trop has not gone well. The Rays routinely “race” the Athletics for lowest attendance. Incidentally, the A’s are also locked in a battle to relocate.
The Rays’ one page spec sheet demanded a 20 acre site suitable for a baseball field. The surrounding area should contain development potential – either existing local businesses or the potential for new ones. The team has aspirations to create a new Camden Yards by building the first in the next generation of major league stadiums. They speak of creating a come-early and stay-late atmosphere with a next level fan experience. Their desire to integrate with external entertainment, retail, and food options dovetails with the latest trends in stadium building.
The document also refers to a need for a “public-private partnership.” That’s shorthand for tax payer money. Tax payer funding of stadiums is always a fascinating angle to evaluate. Economic analyses typically find that public funding of stadiums mostly profits club ownership at the expense of tax payers. Cities still agree to fund stadiums despite the evidence against them.
As for next steps, the Rays will begin to meet with interested parties. The city believes that the current Tropicana site and another called Toytown fit the team’s specifications. Presumably, the Rays will begin to hone in on more specific details from here.