Rays urged to commit to new stadium plans

Major League Baseball franchise the Tampa Bay Rays has been urged to make the next move on its planned new stadium in Ybor City.

In July, the club unveiled plans to create the most intimate ballpark in MLB. The headline feature of the Populous-designed ballpark is a translucent roof, which would account for 30 per cent of the project cost and fully enclose the facility.

The stadium would have 28,216 fixed seats and a total capacity of 30,842. It is projected to cost $809m (£635m/€712m), with additional infrastructure costs of $83m, and could be complete for Opening Day 2023.

In October, the Rays moved to clarify that they are completely committed to the plans after acquiring United Soccer League team Tampa Bay Rowdies and taking control of its Al Lang Stadium.

The acquisition led to speculation that the Rays may be seeking alternative ballpark plans but president Matt Silverman rejected talk of any uncertainty concerning the Ybor project.

Little progress has been made on the Ybor plans since then and Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill has pressed the Rays to outline their intentions for the new stadium.

The Tampa Bay Times newspaper reports that the Hillsborough county is at the stage where it needs to hear from the club in order to progress with the plans. “We’re kind of at that point,” Merrill said, according to the Times.

“Our mission was to build a framework for a deal and this is the best we could come up with. We really need to hear from the Rays.”

A three-year deal that allows the Rays to look for Hillsborough stadium sites expires at the start of 2019 and Merrill is hopeful for progress before the end of the year.

Image: Tampa Bay Rays