The Tampa Bay Rays made a major announcement on Tuesday, unveiling design and cost details for a proposed ballpark in Tampa’s Ybor City neighborhood.
As presented in the designs released Tuesday, the Rays are proposing a fixed translucent roof Ybor City ballpark. The seating capacity would be come in at 28,216 and additional standing room would create an overall capacity of 30,842, making it Major League Baseball’s smallest ballpark. In other unique design features, the ballpark would include sliding-glass windows, concourses that could open to the public for events, and an array of seating options.
The announcement was expected to yield more details on the proposed ballpark’s design, and did just that–showing that the Rays are seeking an intimate ballpark that also serves as a draw for non-baseball events. The Rays worked with Populous on the designs ahead of Tuesday’s announcement, the most detailed presentation from the team since it announced its preference for the Ybor City site in February.
One of the crucial areas that will have to be addressed to make the ballpark a reality is its financing. The Rays indicated on Tuesday that the total project will cost is $892 million, with $809 million of that figure accounting for the ballpark itself and the remainder allotted for related expenses such as infrastructure. What remains is to be seen is how the Rays and other parties involved, including local government, will fund the project, a question the team acknowledged still needs to be answered. More from the Tampa Bay Times:
“It will provide a ballpark experience like no other,” Rays executive Melanie Lenz said.
The estimated cost of the stadium and infrastructure is $892 million. The stadium cost is $809 million, and the roof is about $240 million of that.
As for arguably the biggest question of who is paying for what, team president Brian Auld said, “We don’t have those answers yet.”
Principal owner Stuart Sternberg talked about the “ingenuity” involved in the design and seating concepts which include picnic, patio, table and fountain seating areas among others.
The ballpark has been proposed for a 14-acre site north of Ybor Channel, and would serve as a replacement for Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. The Rays have sought to replace Tropicana Field for years, and an 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 if negotiations over the Ybor City proposal need more time, but it remains to be seen if it will come to that point.
Sorting out the financing model will be perhaps the largest priority going forward, while the Rays and local officials are still hoping to see business and community support for the proposed ballpark grow. Now that some details on the ballpark are public, the Rays and elected leaders can approach those discussions with a bit more certainty, but there is plenty of work remaining for the Rays if they are to land in Ybor City.
All renderings courtesy Tampa Bay Rays.
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