After nearly 16 years of back-and-forth, the Tampa Bay Rays have finally secured their future in St. Petersburg.
According to Yahoo Sports, the Rays and the city of St. Pete has finally reached an agreement on a new $1.3 billion dollar ballpark that will replace the aging, cavernous Tropicana Field. “I am incredibly excited. This is a big, meaningful and really positive development,” said team president Brian Auld to MLB.com in announcing the deal.
As part of the new 86-acre Historic Gas Plant District in downtown St. Pete, the Rays shining new ballpark will have a capacity of around 30,000, which will be around five thousand more than Tropicana Field’s capacity (around 25,000 minus all the covered seats). To protect fans against Tampa Bay’s searing summer heat, the new stadium will be a dome (sadly, it won’t be retractable), among other yet-to-be-announced amenities. In a major upgrade from their current home, known to locals as “The Trop,” the Rays new domed stadium will have windows.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, Rays managing partner, Stu Sternberg, said that the team will pay half “or more” for the total price of the ballpark, with St. Pete, Pinellas County, and Tampa footing the bill for the rest, making this project a true team effort. Once the stadium is completed by the end of the decade, the old Trop will be torn down.
Without a new stadium, the Rays were consistently mentioned in relocation talks, and, at one point, threatened to “split” their season with the city of Montreal before MLB threw cold water on that idea in 2022, which brought the Rays back to the drawing board to work with Tampa Bay leaders on constructing a new full-time home for the Rays in the region.
The Rays new yet-to-be-named ballpark will be part of a massive redevelopment of the city’s historic Gas Plant District, developed by the Hines Corporation which will transform 86-acres of land in downtown St. Pete into an arts, culture, food, retail, and, now, sports hub. The area was once a vibrant African American community, but was razed to build the now infamous Tropicana Field, which opened in 1990.
The new stadium is expected to be completed by 2028.
Article written by Kareem Gantt