On Friday, the Tampa Bay Rays will announce Tampa’s Ybor City as their preferred new ballpark site, though plenty of work remains to make the facility a reality.
In a scenario that has been rumored since last August, the Rays could pursue a new ballpark in Tampa’s Ybor City neighborhood. However, the Rays have yet to publicly confirm that it is their preferred choice as the location for a new ballpark to replace Tropicana Field.
That is expected to change on Friday afternoon, when the team makes a formal announcement, according to Hillsborough County commissioner Ken Hagan. Although the announcement will add some clarity to the Rays’ preference when it comes to the new ballpark’s location, there still will be continuing discussions over how to finance the project and a call for support from prospective sponsors and ticket holders. More from The Tampa Bay Times:
“This is a major step,” said Hagan, who added he was given this news from the team. “I’m hopeful this will continue to build momentum on our effort to bring the Tampa Bay Rays to Ybor. Tomorrow’s announcement will go a long way toward that, and I imagine at some point in the near future they’ll announce their ballpark design.”
The announcement is expected at 1:30 p.m. Friday at the Tampa Baseball Museum.
Financing for a new stadium is not yet in place and could still take months to hammer out. The Rays have an agreement with the City of St. Petersburg that allows them to search for a new ballpark through January 2019.
Also on Friday, business leaders Ron Christaldi and Charles Sykes will unveil a corporate campaign to raise support for a Rays stadium in Tampa. The guarantee of sponsorships and ticket sales will be a major factor in how much the team will contribute toward a stadium.
The area that has been reported as a possible ballpark site is surrounded by 15th Street and Channelside Drive to the east and west, along with Fourth Avenue and Adamo Drive to the north and south. Should a new ballpark at this location become a reality, it would lead to the Rays moving from St. Petersburg to Tampa. In St. Petersburg, part of Pinellas County, there has been some discussion about the possibility of constructing a new ballpark near Tropicana Field, which would be torn down to make way for new development. The Rays have played at Tropicana Field since their inaugural season in 1998, and have spent years discussing the possibility of replacing the facility.
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