Major League Baseball team the Tampa Bay Rays has announced details of a planned new ballpark in Ybor City, Tampa.
Should the move come to fruition, it would mark the first time that the Rays have played away from Tropicana Field (pictured) since the franchise was formed in 1998. Tropicana Field is located in St. Petersburg.
The 14-acre site in Ybor City is situated in between 4th Avenue, Adamo Drive, Channelside Drive and 15th Street. The announcement comes after the Rays were given permission to explore locations for a new ballpark two years ago.
“The Ybor site was chosen through a collaborative, cooperative process with Tampa and Hillsborough County leadership,” Rays principal owner Stu Sternberg said. “It represents the finest opportunity for Major League Baseball to thrive in this region for generations to come.
“This is where we want to be playing baseball, and the possibilities are very, very exciting to me and my organisation, and to Major League Baseball, and to all of our fans.”
Sternberg added: “We’re eager to work cooperatively to make this vision come to life. Ybor City is authentically Tampa Bay. It is a place with soul, and grit, with a rich, rich baseball history as well. We could not be more excited about playing a role in writing the next chapter in Ybor’s storied history by together building a next generation ballpark that integrates this vibrant and growing community.”
A timeframe for the project remains unclear, although the Rays’ lease at Tropicana Field expires in 2027. The Tampa Bay Times newspaper reported that if the Rays leave before the end of 2022, it is required to pay Tampa $3m (£2.2m/€2.4m) a year for the remainder of the lease. Thereafter, the fee drops to $2m a year, according to the Times. The new stadium would cost more than $700m to build.
The Tampa Bay Rays 2020 organisation has also been introduced to help secure sponsorship and support for the stadium project.