Realizing there's a lot of at stake if a regional approach isn't used, business leaders from both Tampa and St. Petersburg have joined forces on a Baseball Stadium Financing Caucus, charged with finding funding mechanisms for a new Tampa Bay Rays ballpark.
The caucus is a joint effort from Chambers of Commerce in both cities. And while the group will avoid the biggest point of contention -- where a new ballpark should be located -- they will lay out the financial road plan for a new ballpark. Most importantly, the group has the potential to break the logjam currently preventing any action on a new ballpark. St. Pete Mayor Bill Foster is adamant about a new ballpark being located in or near St. Pete, while the Rays ownership wants to explore all possible ballpark locations: downtown Tampa, the Florida State Fairgrounds, etc.
The Rays' lease at Tropicana Field lasts until 2027.
"Keeping Major League Baseball in the community over the long haul is our key objective. There is a risk we could lose them,'' Mark Wimberly, head of the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce, told the St. Petersburg Times. "I don't believe there is a great deal of information out in the public or understanding by the public. We are helping the business climate and we are educating the public. That's why we are doing it."
The group expects to have a report by the end of the year.
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