|Team: Tampa Bay Rays||Projected Opening: 2022 or 2023|
Update: February 9, 2018: The Rays finally have a ballpark site, and this is a long time coming. The new ballpark will be located in the southwest corner of Ybor City, Tampa's main nightlife (and cigar) area, and it is located in the heart of Tampa and the Tampa Bay region. Tropicana Field is easily the worst ballpark in the majors. The Rays, who signed a very restrictive lease (see below) now have a home that will keep them in the Tampa Bay area, much to the delight of their 16 fans. Tourism from Boston and The Bronx is looking up for Ybor City. In all seriousness part of the reason why the Rays are in their situation is the current ballpark is located in St. Petersburg, which is on the edge of the metro Tampa Bay area. Considering Florida isn't a teeming hotbed of baseball fans to begin with, this causes a lot of people to not go to the games, which causes a lot of apathy about the team, which means they can't sign a lucrative broadcasting deal which is where the big money are for teams. Rays, the ball is in your court, for years, you, and every other team that wants a new ballpark, cries poor and can't invest in talent because they have a ballpark that can't generate enough revenue. Don't be like the Minnesota Twins, when you get your new ballpark, spend some money on the team, as nothing helps attendance more than wining. Here is the location of the new ballpark:
Update: January 15, 2016: The St. Petersburg City Council has granted the Rays permission to look for potential ballpark sites on both sides of Tampa Bay. This is significant, because the Tampa side of Tampa Bay is much more heavily populated than the St. Petersburg side. Also, Tropicana Field is one of the worst parks in baseball. Interestingly enough, the agreement also has a provision that will financially benefit the Rays if they build a new park on the site of Tropicana Field. In my opinion, this deal is a win win. St. Petersburg won't look like the bad guys if the Rays decide to leave the Tampa Bay area (which I think they will), it gives the Rays flexibility to look for a better situation in the Tampa Bay area. Also, it sweetens the pot if the Rays decide to stay on the site that St. Petersburg thinks is best for a new park.
Despite the efforts of the Rays and St. Petersburg Mayor, Rick Kriseman, to come to an agreement that allow the Rays to search for a ballpark site, the City Council voted the plan down. Essentially, as the lease stands, if the Rays leave Tropicana Field, and the site is redeveloped, half of the revenues would go to the Rays with the other half going to the City. The Rays were willing to waive their claim to half the revenue in exchange for terminating their current lease.
As of now the current lease extends through 2027 and does not allow the Rays to look at ANY other site for a ballpark, including sites in St. Petersburg. With the way things are going, I am curious if we are going to see the Las Vegas Rays or the Montreal Rays in 2028.
© 2015-17 Paul Healey.