When details on a proposed Tampa Bay Rays ballpark in Tampa’s Ybor City are unveiled Tuesday, officials hope that it will help spark support for the project.
Since the Rays announced in February that Ybor City is their preferred site for a new ballpark, there have been questions about how the proposal will take shape. Some of those questions should be answered on Tuesday, when the Rays host a media event to announce several awaited details, including a cost estimate and design renderings.
All of those details will add a bit more certainty to the overall plan, but Tuesday’s announcement will be followed over the coming months by considerable discussion over the proposal. The Rays and any other parties involved in financing the ballpark will need to agree to a funding model if the facility is to become a reality, while efforts will have to continue to build business and community support for the team. Hillsborough County commissioner Ken Hagan believes that Tuesday’s announcement should help in building that support, as the unveiling of the proposal’s details could prompt more interest from the community. More from the Tampa Bay Times:
The milestone comes five months after principal owner Stu Sternberg announced that the team had picked a 14-acre site in Ybor City as its preferred new home. The Rays have been working with Populous, an international architect firm that also designed the team’s spring training ballpark in Port Charlotte.
The drawings will give the public the first glimpse of how a ballpark would fit into the historic Latin neighborhood near downtown and will make it easier to grow support for the project, said Hillsborough Commissioner Ken Hagan, who helped open the door for the Rays to pursue a move to Tampa.
“When we initially rolled out the location, that generated a significant amount of support,” Hagan said. “This will only help us to gain momentum and gain the necessary corporate and community support.”
But no matter how innovative and appealing the design, Hagan and other local leaders still face an uphill task to figure out how to pay for a stadium, a cost estimated at around $800 million.
For the Rays, the proposed Ybor City ballpark would end the team’s search for a replacement for Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. The ability of the Rays and local officials to finalize a funding model for the proposed ballpark will be one of the crucial factors in determining whether or not it moves forward, so that aspect of the discussions will be watched closely over the coming weeks and months. The Rays are targeting a 14-acre site north of Ybor Channel for the ballpark.
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