In order to reflect an urban ballpark experience, officials envision parking garages and transit as being crucial to access a proposed Tampa Bay Rays ballpark.
With the Rays continuing their search for a new ballpark location, Hillsborough County recently revealed that it will pitch the team a site in Tampa’s Channel District-Ybor City area. The site is envisioned as offering something of a downtown ballpark experience, with the exact location being surrounded 15th Street and Channelside Drive to the east and west, along with Fourth Avenue and Adamo Drive to the north and south.
Plenty of steps will need to be completed if the vision is to become reality, but some local officials are offering ideas as to how parking and access would be planned. Rather than featuring large surface parking lots, the ballpark would likely be supported by garages, transit access, and walkability in the surrounding area.
While some venues in the Tampa Bay region–including Tropicana Field, the Rays’ current home–offer large surface lots, the proposed ballpark would be designed in a different fashion. As Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn explains, the ideas are very preliminary but alternatives to acres of surface parking lots would could be a better fit for the ballpark and its surroundings. More from TBO.com:
“I think the goal of the Rays and of all of us, if this stadium gets built there, is it’s a very urban stadium,” Mayor Bob Buckhorn said. “What you don’t want is acres and acres of surface parking. That defeats the purpose of building in the urban core.”
Not only does surface parking take up prime urban real estate around a stadium, the mayor said, but it can also cost $20,000 to $30,000 per space to build. Meanwhile, there’s no financial plan in place to actually build the stadium itself, which could cost from $500 million to $650 million.
Tampa officials have made it clear that any parking plans are speculation at this point. But Buckhorn said he imagines fans will take advantage of existing garages and lots, such as those in downtown and Ybor, as opposed to the city building new parking structures. From there, fans could walk through downtown to the stadium, take shuttles or ride the TECO Line Streetcar.
There are several questions remaining with the Channel District-Ybor City, including the project’s cost and how it would be funded if the Rays and Hillsborough County officials move forward with discussions.
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