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Sternberg: New Rays Ballpark Discussions Moving Along

Tampa Bay Rays Ybor City ballpark rendering 1

Discussions of a new Tampa Bay Rays ballpark in Tampa’s Ybor City are moving along, according to team owner Stuart Sternberg.

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.

The funding model is a major part of the proposed project that needs to be resolved. The ballpark is expected to funded as part of a private-public partnership, but the exact contributions that could be made by the Rays and the other parties involved–including local government–remain unknown. However, Sternberg indicated recently that discussions of a new ballpark are proceeding, as the team is engaged in conversations with local officials and business leaders to come up with a potential solution. More from the Tampa Bay Times:

Sternberg said it’s “going to be a combination obviously” of funding sources, with contributions from the team, corporate community and local governments.

“We’re obviously talking to Hillsborough (County), we’re talking to city of Tampa,” Sternberg said. “We’re trying to come up with solutions both obvious and creative, and out of the box, and in the box, and from the playbook and everything possible to try to give this thing the best chance of happening.”

Sternberg has not said how much the team would contribute, or if that number is even known yet, except that it would be “well north” of the $150 million he first mentioned last November. After the July announcement he said it likely would not be double that, but that could change.

Sternberg said the talks between the team, business and governmental leaders should not be portrayed as “a negotiation.”

The Rays have sought to replace Tropicana Field for some time, and an agreement approved by St. Petersburg officials in January 2016 gave the team 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.

Rendering courtesy Tampa Bay Rays.

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