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Sternberg: Rays Could Contribute $150M For New Ballpark

Tampa Bay Rays

Based on initial projections, Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg says that the team’s contribution to a new ballpark could be $150 million. 

Sternberg publicly weighed in on the team’s ongoing search for a new facility on Wednesday, offering some insight into the latest developments in the process. While he indicated that the Rays are excited about Tampa’s Ybor City as a potential ballpark site, he also noted that they have not ruled out St. Petersburg as an option. Furthermore, he indicated that backing from the community in the form of sponsorships and season tickets will be crucial, and that the new ballpark will require a roof of some type.

When discussing the financials behind the deal, Sternberg said the club’s projections of how much its revenues will increase put its likely contribution around $150 million. While he cautioned that the $150 million figure could increase or decrease over time, Hillsborough County officials acknowledged that the negotiations for completing the financial package for a new ballpark could be difficult. More from The Tampa Bay Times:

“We’ve tried to make some guestimates, some estimates on what would be prudent for us, what would give us the ability to take this step in committing to a physical place for another generation or two, and our thought process is it’s probably in the $150 million range,” Sternberg said. “We might find out that’s too much. We might find out that we can afford more.”

At just $150 million, that would leave Hagan and area government and business leaders to come up with the rest, at least $650 million. With no appetite for a tax increase to pay for a stadium? Like the sales tax referendum that built Raymond James Stadium? It will take a creative cocktail of financing mechanisms.

Options include taxes collected from hotels, rental cars, and food and drinks sold near the stadium on game days, plus leveraging the expected growth in property taxes as a result of development around the ballpark.

At Wednesday’s Hillsborough County Commission meeting, [Ken] Hagan acknowledged negotiations over who will pay for the new digs could take a year and won’t be easy.

“I don’t know if we’ll ever get there,” Hagan said.

In St. Petersburg, a proposal has been floated to build a new ballpark near Tropicana Field, which would be torn down to make way for new development. A previously-approved agreement with the City of St. Petersburg allows the team to canvass the Tampa Bay region for a new ballpark until January 2019.

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