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Manfred: There’s Work Remaining on Rays Ballpark Deal

Tampa Bay Rays Ybor City ballpark rendering 1

There is still some work to be done in negotiating an agreement for a new Tampa Bay Rays ballpark, according to Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred

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. As unveiled by the team in July, the plan calls for the ballpark to feature a fixed translucent roof and be constructed as part of an $892 million project.

If that proposal is to become a reality, the Rays will have to negotiate a new ballpark funding model. It is widely expected that the ballpark would be funded as part of a public-private partnership, but the exact financial numbers of what the parties involved–including the Rays and local government–will contribute remains unknown.

Prior to game two of the World Series on Wednesday, Manfred discussed the ongoing process. The commissioner spoke favorably of the ballpark’s proposed site and expressed confidence in Rays owner Stuart Sternberg‘s ability to complete an agreement, but was clear that there is still some work to be done in order to reach a final deal. More from the Tampa Bay Times:

“I love the site,” Manfred said. “I think in terms of its geographic location in the region it’s a good one. I think the historic relationship between baseball and Ybor City is a huge positive.

“I think we have some work to do in terms of getting a financing plan together that will get that stadium built.

“But I remain confident if anybody can get it done in Tampa Bay, it’s Stu. Nobody is working harder at it.”

The Rays have until Dec. 31 to let St. Petersburg officials know if they will utilize a pre-negotiated deal to allow an early exit from the team’s contract to play at Tropicana Field. That contract runs through 2027. The Rays, however, hope to move into the new stadium in 2023.

One key part of the overall plans is surrounding development, as local officials are hoping that the ballpark can act as a catalyst for economic development in the area. It remains to be seen if such investment occurs, though the concept seemingly received a boost when the ballpark site was included within a federal economic opportunity zone. Mixed-use development surrounding a ballpark is a major trend–Atlanta’s SunTrust Park provides one example, as do plans to add a new mixed-use area outside of Colorado’s Coors Field–and it is something that the Rays, Hillsborough County, and Tampa officials could tap into as they continue discussions over the Ybor City proposal.

Rendering courtesy Tampa Bay Rays.

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