The Rays take the first step in finally getting a new stadium

9 February 2018

The Tampa Bay Rays, like the Oakland Athletics, have found themselves stuck in new-stadium drama for more years than they’d like to count. The drama could, they hope, be coming to an end soon.

According to a report from the Tampa Bay Times, the Rays are expected to announce Friday their preferred site for a new stadium. It would be in Tampa rather than St. Petersburg, where they currently play. From The Times:

Rays Principal owner Stuart Sternberg will state publicly for the first time that the preferred location for a new ballpark is on the outskirts of Ybor City near the Channel District, Hagan said.

“This is a major step,” said Hagan, who added he was given this news from the team. “I’m hopeful this will continue to build momentum on our effort to bring the Tampa Bay Rays to Ybor. Tomorrow’s announcement will go a long way toward that, and I imagine at some point in the near future they’ll announce their ballpark design.”

The team has been at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg since its debut in 1998, but the Trop wasn’t built as a baseball stadium. It initially hosted indoor football and hockey. The Rays made due with the stadium, but have been hoping to move for years — with Sternberg even saying he’d have to sell the team if it couldn’t find a better stadium.

The Rays were locked into a contract that would have kept them in Tropicana Field until 2027, but they were granted a window of time to secure a new stadium. Now, they have to finalize the deal at their preferred site. Once the site is approved, the team would still have to secure financing for the stadium.

And they’ll have to hope things go better than they did for the A’s — who announced their own preferred new stadium site recently, but ultimiately got vetoed by the people who own the land.