Rays announce deal for new stadium in St. Petersburg

ST PETERSBURG — The Rays are closer than ever to securing a long-term home in the Tampa Bay area.

The Rays entered into a $1.3 billion stadium deal with the city of St. Petersburg and Pinellas County as part of a plan to renovate the 86-acre site known as Tropicana Field and the Historic Gas Plant District. The club, city and county made the announcement at the Tropicana Field on Tuesday.

They still have to go through the public approval process in the coming months, but this is the first time the Rays have reached this stage in the long process of agreeing to a new stadium. As a result, it seems more likely than ever that the Rays will continue to play in downtown St. Petersburg since their inaugural season in 1998.

“I’m very excited. This is an important, significant and truly positive development,” said team president Brian Ault. “Especially the mayor of St. Petersburg, but I also feel the pressure to make sure we carry out this vision that’s been given to us by the county commissioners. So, we have a lot of work ahead of us. .”

The current 30-year contract with Tropicana Field expires after the 2027 season. If the deal is approved and all goes according to plan, construction will begin in late 2024 and be completed by the end of 2027. Opening Day 2028 is when the Rays begin playing there.

Race’s proposal calls for a roughly 30,000-seat arena (with a capacity of 35,000 for special events) with a fixed roof, artificial turf, movable walls and a pavilion. Pay more than half of the estimated cost of the racetrack; The city and county have about $600 million and the Rays the rest.

The stadium is part of his mixed-use district redevelopment plan, which includes multifamily housing, offices, retail space, hotel rooms, senior housing and entertainment venues.

“We believe there are many things that will allow us to significantly increase attendance in the future,” said Alt. “First, we’re going to have a great ballpark surrounded by a world-class goal, so we hope more people will come to enjoy that incredible ballpark and all the wonderful things we have around it.”

The Rays have been looking for a new home in the Tampa Bay area for about 16 years. They announced plans for a stadium at the Al Long Stadium site in November 2007, but were unable to reach an agreement with Hillsborough County on a stadium proposal in Ybor City in 2018. MLB Board of Directors in January 2022.

Wilmot Chandler

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