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New Rays ballpark discussion shifts to Tampa

It's not a given that a new Tampa Bay Rays ballpark will end up in St. Pete, as a citizen committee exploring a new facility says Tampa is actually the best location.

The area around Raymond James Stadium in Tampa would be the most accessible place for a new Tampa Bay Rays ballpark, according to the citizen group A Baseball Committee, charged with finding a solution for a new Tampa Bay Rays ballpark.

That part of Tampa along Dale Mabry — which also sports Steinbrenner Field, the spring home of the New York Yankees — is the most accessible to the biggest chunk of the Tampa Bay population, served by a major freeway, a major causeway and an underused toll road. In recent years Tampa has focused on road infrastructure in that area (as anyone flying in and out of Tampa International knows).

Though some of us have an emotional attachment to a new downtown St. Pete ballpark (specifically, the Al Lang Field site on the waterfront), the group says it's not a very accessible location, ranking far behind downtown Tampa, the Florida State Fairgrounds, and the Gateway area of Pinellas County.

Throwing Tampa into the mix is a bold move for ABC; many members have strong ties to St. Pete, and addressing the future of Tropicana Field needs to be part of the discussion. But Tampa and Hillsborough County are where the money is in terms of potential ballpark fundng.

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