ST. PETERSBURG, FL -- The Tampa Bay Rays announce an agreement with the city of St. Petersburg and Pinellas County to build a $1.3 billion ballpark near the current site of Tropicana Field.
Rays owner Stu Sternberg says the deal means the Rays are "here to stay." Sternberg says the "transformative" agreement will keep the team serving fans in the Tampa Bay area "for generations and generations to come." The Rays will contribute more than half the cost and assume any overruns, while St. Petersburg and Pinellas would assume about $600 million in costs.
The tentative deal would end a 16-year effort to build a new home to replace Tropicana Field. Sternberg says the road to the deal was "bumpy" and "things don't always progress in a straight line." While Major League Baseball has expressed concerns in the past about the Trop's potential for attendance, Sternberg says the region is "growing around us" and is becoming better able to support a MLB team.
St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch says the development will help to fulfill promises made to the city's Black community more than 30 years ago, when the historic Gas Plant neighborhood was razed he build Tropicana. Welch called it a "dream deferred" but said it will soon become a reality, with a "21st-century vision for economic development on this sacred land." The ballpark, which will seat 30,000 for baseball and 35,000 for other events, is part of a more than six billion dollar plan to redevelop the 86-acre Tropicana Field site.
The deal means the likely end of efforts to build a ballpark in Tampa. Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan tells 95.3 WDAE the county and Tampa couldn't match the tourist tax money available in PInellas.
The Pinellas County Commission and St. Petersburg City Council will be voting on the deal.
Watch the announcement below, from News Channel 8:
Photo: Tampa Bay Rays (rendering)