With a key deadline approaching, the Tampa Bay Rays want to see the financial framework for a proposed ballpark in Ybor City take shape by year’s end.
In their ongoing effort to replace Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, the Rays have zeroed in on a 14-acre site north of Ybor Channel in Tampa’s Ybor City neighborhood for a potential new ballpark. The team unveiled its concept for a new facility in July, calling for it to feature a fixed translucent roof and be constructed as part of an $892 million project.
Negotiation over the funding is a major step in the process that still has to be completed, and the Rays want to have a better sense of the financial framework by the end of this year. An agreement approved by St. Petersburg officials in January 2016 gave the team three years to explore new ballpark sites, and it is approaching its deadline. 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.
With the expiration of that agreement in mind, the team reportedly wants a financial framework to take shape over the coming months. Piecing together a funding structure between now and the end of this year would give the Rays a better sense of where negotiations with Hillsborough County,and potentially other parties, stand before they address their deadline with St. Petersburg. More from the Tampa Bay Times:
The Tampa Bay Rays are pushing Hillsborough officials to present a financing “structure” for a new ballpark before its deal to look for a home outside of St. Petersburg runs out Dec. 31, according to Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan.
The plan would detail how a new stadium will be paid for and provide long-awaited answers about how much the team is willing to contribute. To that end, serious negotiations with the Rays are expected to start in the “near future,” Hagan said Wednesday at a meeting of the Rotary Club of Ybor City.
If agreement on a financing plan can be reached, it will be followed by an economic study on the impact of a new ballpark and a surrounding entertainment district.
“This will allow us to have a very transparent public discussion on the merits of the proposal, as well as the value of the team remaining in Tampa Bay,” Hagan said.
It has been anticipated that the new Rays ballpark could be developed as part of a public-private partnership, but the exact cost shares and funding sources are still unknown. Local officials are hoping that the ballpark can be a catalyst for development in the area and, while it remains to be seen if such investment occurs, the concept seemingly received a boost when the ballpark site was included within a federal economic opportunity zone. Having development surround the ballpark would follow more recent trends around baseball–in fact, the Atlanta Braves’ SunTrust Park and adjacent The Battery Atlanta is something of a model for the proposed Rays ballpark–while bringing more tax revenue into the area.
Rendering courtesy Tampa Bay Rays.
RELATED STORIES: Business Support Builds for New Rays Ballpark; Tech and the Art of Ballpark Design; Firm Could Put Station, Development Near Rays Ybor City Ballpark; How Much Will Rays Pitch in For Ybor City Ballpark?; Manfred Weighs in on A’s, Rays Ballpark Searches; Rays Unveil Ybor City Ballpark Renderings, Cost Estimate; Anticipation Builds for Rays Ybor City Announcement; Details on Rays Ybor City Ballpark Set for Tuesday Unveiling; Ybor City Added to List for Federal Tax Breaks; Naming Rights Key for Proposed Rays Ybor City Ballpark; Rays Exec: We’ll Know Within Six to Nine Months if Ybor City Ballpark is Viable; Rays, St. Pete Still Planning for Post-Tropicana Field World; Longoria: Maybe Rays Should Leave Tampa Bay; Tampa Mayor Wants Rays Ybor City Site Reconsidered for Federal Help; Private Investment Sought for Area Surrounding Rays Ybor City Ballpark; State Aid for New Rays Ballpark Pops Up at Gubernatorial Debate; Business Owners Pushing for Rays Ybor City Ballpark; Tourism Tax Could Be Part of New Rays Ballpark Funding Formula; Rays Offer Vision for Ybor City Ballpark; Cigar Bar on Tap at New Rays Ballpark?; Manfred: Ybor City Ballpark is Great, But Businesses Need to Support Rays; Early Reaction to Rays’ Ybor City Plan: Positive; Rays Name Ybor City as Preferred Ballpark Location; Rays to Name Tampa’s Ybor City as Preferred Ballpark Site; Time Running Out for New Ybor City Ballpark Proposal from Rays; Sternberg: Rays Could Contribute $150M for New Ballpark; Rays Were Driving Force Behind Ybor City Ballpark Site; Parking Garages, Transit Envisioned for Rays Ballpark; Rays Ballpark Funding Among Pressing Questions; Channel District-Ybor City Pitched for Rays Ballpark; No Land, No Ballpark: Rays Face New Obstacles; Leiweke: Rays Can Succeed in Tampa Bay Region; Joe Maddon: The Rays Need a Better Facility; Rob Manfred: Rays Ballpark Search Should Accelerate; New Tampa Bay Rays Ballpark Site Emerging in Channel District-Ybor City?; Rays Ballpark Search Should be Complete By Year’s End: Sternberg; Manfred Hopeful on Rays Ballpark Search; Hillsborough Commissioner: SunTrust Park Could be a Model for New Rays Ballpark; State Could Affect Funding for New Rays Ballpark