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Tampa Should Reopen Rays Ballpark Talks: Mayor

Tampa Bay Rays Ybor City ballpark rendering 2

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor says representatives from throughout the region should meet with the team in an effort to restart new Tampa Bay Rays ballpark talks, as the team’s success in the playoffs may revive stalled discussions.

The effort to replace St. Petersburg’s Tropicana Field was previously focused on Tampa’s Ybor City, where a proposal for a new $892-million ballpark (rendering above) was discussed throughout much of last year. The Rays ultimately walked away from negotiations in December, believing that the plan was financially unfeasible. Since then it’s been all quiet on the new-ballpark front–in Tampa, at least.

But with new details emerging on a Montreal ballpark and the realization that the team could walk away at the end of its Tropicana Field lease, there’s apparently the feeling that it’s time to revive ballpark talks on a regional level. There are an abundance of options here: besides bringing the Ybor City proposal back for consideration, there’s also the potential of building a new ballpark at the Tropicana Field site, and there’s also the potential of looking elsewhere in Tampa–say, near Raymond James Stadium–for a site that would combine development and a new facility. Castor’s point is that the talks need to occur in more than just on a city or county level. Tampa is a hot market right now, and the right development / ballpark proposal could keep the team in Tampa Bay. From the Tampa Bay Times:

“I really feel like we should probably maybe just start over again,” Castor said as she greeted people behind home plate at Tropicana Field on Tuesday. “Everybody just come back to the table and start over again. Finding out what the Rays want and need, and then which community can best fulfill those needs.”…

Castor confirmed there are not any active talks to bring a stadium and the Rays to Tampa or Hillsborough County. She said the Rays’ playoff run reminds the community of the need to work together to keep the team in Tampa Bay.

“We need to support that as a region and show the Rays we want them here,” Castor said. “I just want to sit down and have those discussions with the Rays. If it’s in conjunction with St. Pete, with Pinellas, with Hillsborough, with Tampa, just bring everybody together and figure out what’s best for the region.”

Currently there’s little appetite for tax dollars going for a new Rays ballpark, as Castor stressed. But the rules might change a little if there’s a proposal for a development that financially supports a Rays ballpark.

Rendering courtesy Tampa Bay Rays.

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