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Separating Wheat From Chaff in Tampa Bay Ballpark Search

Tampa Bay RaysWith 17 potential ballpark sites on the table, politicians and Tampa Bay Rays officials are beginning the long process of deciding on a handful of finalists in Pinellas and Hillborough counties — but it’s already apparent some of the contenders are pretenders.

Take, for example, the Snug Harbor that emerged as a possible ballpark site earlier this week. The 39-acre parcel on Gandy Boulevard in St. Petersburg is large enough to accommodate the ballpark and surrounding development, while offering closer proximity to downtown Tampa than Tropicana Field. Melanie Lenz of the Rays confirmed it was under consideration, though it’s far from certain that it would be the preferred site for St. Petersburg officials: Mayor Rick Kriseman is pushing a location next to the Trop that would accommodate additional development. From the Tampa Bay Times:

But reading the tea leaves, Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan thinks the Rays are just entertaining the site as a courtesy.

For one, the Snug Harbor location doesn’t meet many of the search criteria the team laid out in February. Other than a scenic backdrop along the water and better accessibility for Hillsborough and Pasco county fans, it’s not a spot ripe for urban development nor could it easily draw off potential corporate partners.

Melanie Lenz, who is leading the Rays’ ballpark search, told the Tampa Bay Times the Snug Harbor parcel is “certainly one of many sites that we’re taking a serious look at.”

Hagan is skeptical.

“That Snug Harbor site was enticing from the water aspect but it’s not an urban environment,” he said. “And I don’t even know about the fill that’s needed and access issues.”

Of course, this is the point in the site search where courtesies are paid and an inordinately high number of potential locations are on the table. It doesn’t cost anyone anything to say a site is under consideration. The real news will be made when when county and city officials pare down the potentials and push a smaller number of realistic ballpark sites.

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