The Tampa Bay Rays will know within six to nine months if a proposed Ybor City ballpark is a viable option, according to comments from a team official.
The current focus for the Rays in their ongoing ballpark search is Tampa’s Ybor City, where a facility is being pitched for a 14-acre site north of Ybor Channel. While that site has the advantage of being closer to a larger portion of the region’s population than the team’s current home–Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg–there are still several unresolved issues. No firm cost estimate has been released and it remains to be seen whether a funding agreement can be struck by the Rays and the other parties involved in discussions, including Hillsborough County.
Another factor that looms is an agreement with St. Petersburg that allows the team to explore Tampa for a new ballpark, an arrangement that is set to expire at year’s end. Clearly there are plenty of major pieces to consider in the ongoing discussions, but the Rays could know within the next six to nine months whether a new Ybor City ballpark is a viable option. That is according to comments earlier this week from Melanize Lenz, the Rays chief development officer. More from The Tampa Bay Times:
That means the alarm may sound on the Rays’ Ybor dream as early as March.
Lenz made her comments at an informal brainstorming session with about 15 people Wednesday in Ybor City, said Courtney Orr, manager of the Ybor City Community Renewal Area.
Lenz “stated that they’ll probably have a general sense if it was a go or no go in six to nine months,” Orr told members of the Tampa City Council at a renewal area meeting Thursday.
The Rays declined comment.
The agreement approved by St. Petersburg officials in January 2016 gave the Rays three years to explore new ballpark sites. The Rays are currently committed to play at Tropicana Field through 2027, but under the terms of the three-year window could buy out of the lease for $2 million annually. In theory, that deal could be extended.
Ybor City was announced in February as the team’s preferred site for a new ballpark.
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