After years of relative inactivity, things are moving on a new Tampa Bay Rays ballpark, with Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn launching things publicly with a stance that the Rays put up a third of the cost of a new $600 million ballpark.
Buckhorn and Hillsborough County Commission Chairman Ken Hagan held a joint news conference Friday to discuss a potential city-county effort to lure the Rays to Hillsborough County. The meeting was remarkably sudden, given that St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster just revealed Monday that he approves of letting the team look across the bay for stadium sites.
However, Buckhorn and Hagan both said a Rays stadium could be a huge economic benefit to Tampa and Hillsborough County.
“This will be complicated. This will be expensive,” Buckhorn said Friday. “But certainly it will be worth the effort.”
The plan is for a $600-million retractable-roof ballpark probably in downtown Tampa. A Downtown Tampa Community Redevelopment Area could be tapped for upwards of $14 million a year, while the visa-selling EB-5 program could be tapped for additional funds.
Of course, one vital task needs to be performed: St. Petersburg must specifically amend the Tropicana Field lease to allow the Rays to talk new ballpark with other municipalities.
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